To Dream the SNAP Benefit Dream

Paul RyanHave you heard the news, sonny?! The Republicans are concerned about poverty! It must be true, because everybody’s talking about it. And the Republicans are making speeches! But they aren’t interested in little things like food and shelter and, you know, education. They are interested in dreams. The Republicans want the poor to dream again. After talking to Paul Ryan, Bishop Shirley Holloway said, “Paul wants people to dream again. You don’t dream when you’ve got food stamps.” And they want the poor to dream big. Marco Rubio said, “Raising the minimum wage may poll well, but having a job that pays $10 an hour is not the American dream.” That was quoted in a PBS News Hour article titled without any sense of irony, The War on Poverty: Not Just a Liberal Campaign.

Oh yes! The Republicans care about the poor. That’s why they’re united in cutting extended unemployment benefits. That’s why they’re united in cutting food stamps. That’s why they’re united on leaving the working poor without medical care. And so much more! Matt Yglesias noted of Bishop Holloway’s statement that food stamps prevent dreaming, “Scott Winship, a conservative policy analyst who’s working with Ryan’s staff concede that this kind of thing ‘makes Republicans look like they’re just punishing poor people, which in my experience is a common side-effect of punishing poor people.”

Marco Rubio Time Magazine CoverSo what we have here, is failure to communicate. And I do mean that. This is just another re-branding effort by the right. Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio both support slashing food stamps and unemployment benefits. But they say a couple of things about allowing the poor to dream and the “liberal” PBS says that conservatives have started their own war on poverty. And it isn’t just PBS. In general, the mainstream media just follow right along. It doesn’t matter what the Republicans do, it’s what they say that matters. So there is failure to communicate. Conservatives lie and the media report those lies as fact. It must be true, Gwen Ifill said it!

Paul Krugman’s column today was, Enemies of the Poor. But even he is being too easy on the conservative movement. He notes, “The point is that a party committed to small government and low taxes on the rich is, more or less necessarily, a party committed to hurting, not helping, the poor.” First, the Republicans are not not not committed to small government; they are committed to big government that helps the rich. But we can talk about that some other time. The point is that hurting the poor is not just some side effect of their ideology. It is a key part of their ideology. And you only have to look at a blog post Krugman wrote today to see this.

In You’re All Losers, he shows that the use of the word “losers” in books has gone up by a factor of four since the 1960s. You see, the problem is that it is a big deal when a Republican politician stands up and says that we have to do something to help the poor. It doesn’t matter that the politician has no actual policy ideas and that it is clear that “helping the poor” really means “hurting the poor.” It’s news! But when a Republican politician says yet again that we are stealing from the “producers” and giving it to the “moochers” that’s not news. No one’s interested in that.

After running in circles trying to put the best spin on all this Republican anti-poverty talk, Jonathan Chait concludes where I started, “If Republicans only care about poverty policy insofar as they can use it to rebrand their party for 2016, it seems fair to conclude that they don’t actually care about it at all.” And indeed they don’t. I would go further. Maybe the real anti-poverty program is to allow all the poor to die quickly. That would be a highly effective program. Of course, being dead is even worse for dreaming than food stamps.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “To Dream the SNAP Benefit Dream

  1. My 70-year-old mother lives on a very small, fixed income. She lives in a small one-bedroom apartment that is subsidized, not by the government, but by the Seventh Day Adventists. Chronic ill health keeps her from getting a great job at Walmart so her SNAP card is a necessity.

    The insulated, self-righteous nutwaggers who propagate lies of a non-existent "moocher class" to support specious arguments to defend their own greed are repugnant and reprehensible.

  2. @Andrea – Yeah, that’s the case. The truth is that the conservative movement is now fully vested in a social Darwinian take on life. And not to push it too far, but this is where eugenics comes in. If you really think the moochers are bringing the species down, it is best they die off.

  3. I want to eat Paul Ryan’s face. I want to eat his smug fucking face and poop out the remnants later. This may be slightly immoral on my part. That’s quite possible. I want to eat his face anyway. May he rot in the Hell he believes in more than I do. And, please, anthropomorphic God, may there be such a Hell. So Paul Ryan may rot in it.


  4. @JMF – I do wonder about people like Paul Ryan who claim to be (in his case) Catholic. I assume that it is all for show. He doesn’t really believe it. If you really believed in the Bible, you would be a Franciscan. You would give up all of your possessions and work to help the poor. But pretty much no one does that. Hence: they are a bunch of fucking liars.

    To quote a very old song, I wish that Paul Ryan would "pull his foreskin over his head and vanish up his ass."


  5. I needed the hell out of that Croce clip, thanks. I’m in real trouble at work. Like, bad trouble. No way to get past it, really; unsolvable issues with management. Income has just dropped to zero. It is what is is; I hate being unemployed, but I’ll probably find new work eventually. Anyhoo: great clip. I needed a cheer-up.

  6. @JMF – I’m very sorry to hear. I understand that kind of work is often handled as independent contracts as a way to screw over people just like you.

    Good luck working it out.

  7. Thanks! This blows, but I’ve handled worse. Much younger then. Time to see if my old self-preservation mojo is still up to snuff. If not then all things told I’ve enjoyed the ride. And guess what? I might surprise myself. You never know.

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