FOR months, Mr Gingrich has made racial resentment an integral part of his platform as a conservative challenger to Mitt Romney.
He has traversed the country calling President Obama ‘the greatest food-stamp president in American history’ and presenting African- Americans with the revelation that they should prefer paychecks to federal handouts.
When he was called on it at the debate by Fox News, he took the measure of the crowd and doubled down. “The fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history,” he announced, to wild cheers. “I know among the politically correct, you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.” What you’re not supposed to do, actually, is mislead the public.The fact is that Obama has ‘put’ no one on food stamps. People apply for food assistance, known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, because they’re poor or out of work and their families are hungry. The number of people using the program, which is now at a peak, began rising with the recession, in 2007, and continued through four of the toughest years ever faced by the poor and near-poor in modern history. Obama eased the eligibility requirements as part of his stimulus program, a desperately needed measure that helped struggling families and the economy.Non-Hispanic whites also far outnumber blacks receiving SNAP benefits. As for the notion that these are people who somehow like their dependency, 30 percent of SNAP households have income from work, a reminder of the brutal impact of the recession on wages.But these are inconvenient details to Mr Gingrich, who implied that the rise in federal aid was a sad indication of the insufficient work ethic of black Americans. But, he suggested, Obama doesn’t want them to work at all because liberal elites prefer to ‘maximize dependency.’Don’t try to follow any kind of logical thread of why the president wouldn’t want the jobless rate to decrease; there isn’t one. This trumpet was sounded to feed the prejudice of people that blacks and other poor people don’t really like to work.