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MSNBC Panel Slams 'Shameless' GOPers on Food Stamps

Media Research CenterOn Thursday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC host Al Sharpton complained about "shameless" Republicans trying to cut food stamp benefits and creating "a whole bunch of ugly names for people who need a little help," as he was joined by MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe and Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia. The MSNBC host grumbled:

Republicans have come up with a whole bunch of ugly names for people who need a little help putting food on the table: welfare queens, takers, the 47 percent. And now House Republicans are poised to pass a bill that would cut more than $20 billion from food stamp programs and take away benefits from two million Americans. We've seen it over and over again. Republicans putting politics over people. ...

These Republicans are shameless. They have no idea what it's like to wonder where your next meal is coming from. Why don't they try to live on the average food stamp benefit of just $31.50 a week?

Turning to Rep. Johnson, he asked: "Do you think Republicans would pass these food stamp cuts if they had to live on $31.50 a week?"

After Johnson inserted class envey by complaining about the number of millionaires in Congress, Sharpton turned to Wolffe, who invoked former President George W. Bush's "compassionate conservative" slogan to try to embarrass the GOP:

You can earn a lot less than $900,000 a year to understand that $31 a week is not enough to feed anyone, really. And there's not a dependency culture that comes out of $31 a week.

We're talking about millions of hungry people in the world's richest country. And, you know, it wasn't so long ago there was Republican who said you shouldn't balance the budget on the backs of the poor. That Republican was George W. Bush when he was running for President as a compassionate conservative. You know, hunger is not a partisan issue, and what they're doing now is trying to turn it into a partisan issue. And that's not the Republican party of even George W. Bush.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Thursday, June 13, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: Republicans have come up with a whole bunch of ugly names for people who need a little help putting food on the table: welfare queens, takers, the 47 percent. And now House Republicans are poised to pass a bill that would cut more than $20 billion from food stamp programs and take away benefits from two million Americans. We've seen it over and over again. Republicans putting politics over people.

REP. STEPHEN FINCHER (R-TN): The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal money from those in the country and give it to others in the country.

REP. STEVE KING (R-IA) CLIP #1: It appears to me that the goal of this administration is to expand the rolls of people that are on SNAP benefits.

REP. KING CLIP #2: Another purpose for that, though, is just to simply expand the dependency class.

SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): Why don't we just pay for your clothes, pay for your shoes, pay for your housing?

SHARPTON: These Republicans are shameless. They have no idea what it's like to wonder where your next meal is coming from. Why don't they try to live on the average food stamp benefit of just $31.50 a week? That's exactly what 26 House Democrats are doing, starting today. With the SNAP food stamp challenge, it's not easy that they have to make, and they have to make some hard choices. One lawmaker drove the point home last night by unpacking his groceries on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): It's going to be a challenge. I certainly will not be eating three meals a day. I will eat in the morning, and then I will eat in the evening.

SHARPTON: Three meals a day. That hardly seems like too much to ask in the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth. Joining me now is that lawmaker you just saw, Congressman Hank Johnson from Georgia, and Richard Wolffe, executive editor of MSNBC.com. Thank you both for being here tonight. ... Congressman, do you think Republicans would pass these food stamp cuts if they had to live on $31.50 a week?

JOHNSON: No, I really don't. And the problem is that we have so many millionaires over there on the other side of the aisle that they will never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or trying to stretch dollars so that they can eat for the period of time that they have the finances to pay for it.

SHARPTON: You know, Richard, when the Congressman says that, let me give you the facts, the numbers, that food stamp recipients versus lawmakers, weekly food stamps benefit, $31.50, as I said, $31.50 a week. The median net worth of a member of Congress is $966,000 a year. You talking about almost a million dollars a year median income. I mean, you're talking about net worth here, not a year, net worth of about a million dollars median income for members of Congress. And you're talking about these are the people that are going to vote to cut $31.50 for people that receive food stamps. This is outrageous.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR: You can earn a lot less than $900,000 a year to understand that $31 a week is not enough to feed anyone, really. And there's not a dependency culture that comes out of $31 a week.

SHARPTON: Right.

WOLFFE: We're talking about millions of hungry people in the world's richest country. And, you know, it wasn't so long ago there was Republican who said you shouldn't balance the budget on the backs of the poor. That Republican was George W. Bush when he was running for President as a compassionate conservative. You know, hunger is not a partisan issue, and what they're doing now is trying to turn it into a partisan issue. And that's not the Republican party of even George W. Bush.

-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center