Meme Busters: A variety of memes and articles have been meant to shame republicans that are opposed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The message: Owsley County, an overwhelmingly white and republican district, has more food stamps recipients as a percentage of residents than anywhere else in America.
First, and most importantly, there are not any credible republicans that argue that food stamps are bad because they go to black people and liberals.
Most republicans that oppose food stamps, like other social welfare programs, are opposed to the abuse of such benefits.
Republican’s issue with SNAP is, and always has been, giving benefits to those that otherwise have real opportunities for work.
There are no such opportunities in the Appalachian rust belt, or what Kevin D. Williamson of the National Review calls “The Big White Ghetto.”
Williamson describes the work outlook here: “Those who have the required work skills, the academic ability, or the simple desperate native enterprising grit to do so get the hell out as fast as they can, and they have been doing that for dec
ades. As they go, businesses disappear, institutions fall into decline, social networks erode, and there is little or nothing left over for those who remain.”
Republican Hal Rogers represents Kentucky’s 5th district, where Owsley County can be found. Rogers recognizes the difference between the needy and the want-y. “Struggling children, seniors, veterans and families, clearly in need of assistance … compete against scammers, lottery winners, gamblers and others who may be able to work, but simply refuse.”
Rogers is correct that Owsley County residents fit the demographic of people most in need of assistance. A full two-thirds of SNAP recipients are minors, seniors, or disabled. The Center for Rural Affairs finds that rural areas fit this demographic more than elsewhere. “We found rural areas and small cities both have higher proportions of their households with senior and child residents receiving SNAP than do larger urban areas and the nation as a whole.”
Statistics also appear to reinforce the sentiment that there are many people abusing food stamps, as Rogers claims. As the national unemployment rate returns to pre-recession levels, the number of people on food stamps has failed to return to anywhere near pre-recessions levels. There were 28 million Americans on food stamps in 2008, the last time the unemployment rate was as low as it is today. However, there are around 46 million Americans using food stamps today despite the low unemployment rate.
If the economy has not truly recovered, as some have offered to explain the stubborn rate of food stamp recipients, this may explain why SNAP continues to be a popular program in rural and urban centers. But President Obama and most democrats would surely dispute this.
By the way, the people living within the Appalachian belt make up a fraction of the total people on food stamps. Comparing rural poverty with urban poverty in this regard is foolish, because the latter cost significantly more than the former.
A number of media outlets point out the irony that republicans oppose SNAP, but that rural, republican-controlled districts use food stamps at higher percentages. But what does this mean for the costs of the food stamp program? A total of 14.6 percent of rural citizens use SNAP, while 13.8 percent of food stamp recipients live in cities and urban areas. Absent from this discussion, though, is that 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas.
In other words, 7.3 million rural (most likely republican) citizens are on food stamps. Compare this with the 34.5 million people on food stamps living in urban (most likely democrat-controlled) areas, and the above meme seems a bit out of context. A super majority, or 82 percent, of food stamps recipients come from urban areas.
Simply comparing urban and rural unemployment rates to determine if rural areas are deserving of their high use of food stamps does not suffienciently explain the high rates. Appalachia’s unemployment rate was only 2 percent higher than America’s total in 2014. However, the situation becomes clearer for rural Appalachians when income levels are explored. A shocking 19.7 percent of Appalachians live below the poverty line, compared with 15.6 percent nationally.
It does not matter, but since this meme and other news stories supporting it make the case, it is worth mentioning that black Americans are far more likely to be on food stamp than their white counterparts. Like many statistics offered by the Left relating to black Americans, the overall proportion of black to white citizens is discounted in order to make it appear that black Americans either do/do not fit a pattern. To say that more white people do something compared to blacks should also look at per capita rates, since blacks make up only 14 percent of the population.
By taking the county with the highest percentage of food stamp recipients, one can completely muddy up the food stamp debate. But Owsley County is hardly representative of both food stamp usage and poverty in America.
So, to summarize:
-Republicans have never disputed food stamps because the recipients are black and liberal. They dispute the abuse of SNAP.
-Owsley County may have the highest percentage of SNAP recipients, but there aren’t many people in rural Kentucky. In fact, 82 percent of food stamp users are from urban America.
-Food stamps are needed in Owsley County compared to elsewhere. Almost 20 percent of Appalachians live in poverty. There are not the opportunities in Owsley that there are in America’s major cities.
-Evidence suggests that people are abusing SNAP. Or the economy still sucks. You pick, democrats.
-Rural areas are composed of people in greater need of food assurance because of the need to care for senior, disabled, and minors.
-Black Americans are far more likely to be on food stamps than white Americans.
Consider this meme BUSTED!