MSNBC Slams FNC on Welfare Fraud, GOP's 'Stunning New Attack' on Food Stamp Recipients
On Thursday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, Washington Post political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor joined host Al Sharpton to go after Republicans for trying to cut back food stamp allowances, with Sharpton seeing "vile rhetoric" from conservatives and a "stunning new attack on millions of Americans trying to put food on the table."
The MSNBC host also fretted over reports of Fox News sending copies of its special on welfare fraud to members of Congress, and again distorted FNC host Bill O'Reilly's contention that some recipients are "parasites."
Before a commercial break, Sharpton teased: "Ahead, say goodbye to another GOP talking point on health care. The Republican hype machine just hit a brick wall. It's called reality. Plus, the right wing's vile rhetoric against the poor. New reports today about how Fox News is literally lobbying Congress against food stamps."
A bit later, he plugged again: "Still ahead, Rush Limbaugh and his comrades on the right launch a stunning new attack on millions of Americans trying to put food on the table. You won't believe what they're saying and what they're doing."
Sharpton began the segment by charging that Republicans want to "shred the safety net," and then moved to attack Fox News: "It's outrageous. But guess where these Republicans get their talking points. Politico reports Fox News is giving House lawmakers copies of its new documentary that attacks people who use food stamps. Offices confirm copies of the video were dropped off unsolicited. The report was full of garbage like this:"
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Thursday, September 5, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:
AL SHARPTON, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK: Ahead, say goodbye to another GOP talking point on health care. The Republican hype machine just hit a brick wall. It's called reality. Plus, the right wing's vile rhetoric against the poor. New reports today about how Fox News is literally lobbying Congress against food stamps.
SHARPTON, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK: Still ahead, Rush Limbaugh and his comrades on the right launch a stunning new attack on millions of Americans trying to put food on the table. You won't believe what they're saying and what they're doing.
SHARPTON: Is Fox News literally lobbying Congress to keep millions of people off food stamps? A stunning new report about how the far right media is putting politics above people. That's next.
SHARPTON: We're facing a hunger crisis in this country. A new government report shows 49 million Americans don't have reliable access to food. This means one in seven families struggles to get enough to eat. But what do Republicans want to do? Cut the assistance we have, shred the safety net. They're pushing to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program, ending assistance for up to six million people.
It's outrageous. But guess where these Republicans get their talking points. Politico reports Fox News is giving House lawmakers copies of its new documentary that attacks people who use food stamps. Offices confirm copies of the video were dropped off unsolicited. The report was full of garbage like this:
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The reality is that American poor people are not malnourished. They, in fact, eat too much food.
BRET BAIER, FNC: When the safety net becomes a hammock-
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: The government has reached in to American neighborhoods and says it's okay to be dependent.
BAIER: Shouldn't there be at least some stigma?
SHARPTON: Shouldn't there be a stigma? What are they talking about? Seventy-six percent of the households that receive food stamps include children, seniors, or disabled people. There should be a stigma for people who attack a program that helps hungry kids.
Goldie, at a time when 49 million Americans struggle to get enough to eat, how can Republicans and right wing pundits talk about gutting food assistance?
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's absolutely an incredulous thing that you have one in seven people who live in homes that are food unstable, which means they don't know if they're going to have enough to eat today or tomorrow, let alone next week. And that means that, you know, these people live next door to you, to me, and to the Republicans who are looking to cut this.
You know, when what was called then the Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed during the Depression, it really set the food policy for this country, for its production and for its safety and for its consumption, that we wanted a baseline to ensure that we had a healthy, well nourished economy, you know, full of people who could, you know, go to work and be productive. And without this kind of safety net, you know, I really fear that people are really going to fall beneath the margins that they're already really standing on.
SHARPTON: Well, they're saying in this documentary, that people are eating too much. Nia-Malika, the right loves to talk about the waste in food stamps. But a new report found that those receiving farm aid got overpaid $20 million. They had no major overpayments in food stamps or national school lunch programs. So, Nia-Malika, will we start hearing Republicans complain about the waste in farm aid?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, WASHINGTON POST: Unlikely. I mean, there are some Republicans who do look at the farm assistance and feel like there are too many subsidies involved in that, but, primarily, they have been looking at food stamps, wanting to cut, some want to cut them more. In fact, it's hard to imagine that a bill like this would pass the Senate. It will be debated this month. The current bill expires on September 30. So I think we're at the beginning of a conversation about food stamps. And hopefully it will reflect the reality. If you look at a map of where people actually receive food stamps, it's primarily the majority of folks or the highest incidents of people who receive food stamps are in states in the South, states like Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana-
SHARPTON: So what's the politics of that, Nia-Malika? How does that play out politically?
HENDERSON: I mean, what this means is a lot of the people who are in Congress now and the House Republicans, they are talking about people in their own states who might be receiving $150 or so in food stamps. They're the working poor. Lots of them only use these food stamps, you know, they only last up until about three weeks. Ninety percent of those folks will have to at some point go to food banks. So I think if these cuts happen, you're going to see a lot of shifting to local governments who are going to have to fund food banks because these folks are going to go poor. It doesn't sound like a lot of money. It will be 30 bucks a month or so that they're going to cut back if these cuts go through. But if you're already struggling to get through the month, $30 is a lot of money.
SHARPTON: Yeah, it's a lot of money. You know, Goldie, you're adding on top of this a real meanness. The right attacks all the programs for the poor. For example, today in North Carolina, the legislature overrode a veto to start drug testing welfare recipients. Even North Carolina's far right governor was against it, saying, quote, "Similar efforts in other states have proved to be expensive for taxpayers and did little to actually help fight drug addiction. It makes no sense to repeat those mistakes in North Carolina." Expensive and not effective. Then why would those GOP lawmakers do it in North Carolina, Goldie?
TAYLOR: No, this is a replay of the stigmas that we saw come to growth in the '80s with the so-called welfare queen, people who are living on the public, feeding from the public trough that are eating too much, that are driving Cadillacs and living in expensive homes and living off of our hard earned tax dollars. And so there is a grand myth around this that really drives the grassroots of the GOP. And I've seen it happen decade after decade. At the end of the day, we really have to consider, though, that the major growth in food stamp dependency is happening in red states.
That means that a lot of this came from the housing bust that we saw over the last few years. The former middle class is now the working poor. And so if we don't provide a safety net for these people, we're going to have a permanent underclass in this country that would become more and more dependent as time moves along. And so it is incumbent upon us to do better for the least of these, you know, so that it raises the tide for all of us.
SHARPTON: You know, Republicans on a state level is making it harder for food assistance. For example, Kansas is adding a work requirement for food stamp recipients which could end assistance for 20,000 people. Now, Nia-Malika, how is ending someone's food assistance going to create new jobs?
HENDERSON: Well, it's not. I mean, and already there is a work requirement with food stamps, so most states actually waive that for able-bodied people who have no kids because the economy is so bad now. People can't find jobs. And you're right. Just because there is now a work requirement doesn't mean that's going to create jobs. I think you're going to see a burden here, again, on those local food banks. You look at a state like Maine, they are thinking about the children who are going to be affected by this.
And they're going to start sending five to six pounds of food home to kids who are on free and reduced lunch so that they can have food during the weekends when school isn't in session. Just because they cut this money doesn't mean that hunger is going to go away and the need to buy food is going to go away.
SHARPTON: And it gives misinformation because, Goldie, the pundits, the right-wing pundits are constantly attacking people who rely on food stamps. Look at this.
BILL O'REILLY, FNC: The Obama administration is encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can with no remorse. And this is how a country declines. This is how we become a weak nation.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: Why does the left promote dependency? Fifty million or more on food stamps. This is their business plan. This is how they stay in power.
SEAN HANNITY, FNC: You think people are better off on food stamps? Or are they better off with a job?
SHARPTON: And what they will not deal with, Goldie, is that many of the people on food stamps are working every day.
SHARPTON: The working poor is the ones that are the problems. They are the ones with the problem.
TAYLOR: You know, the worst kept secret is that there are members of our military, men and women who serve this nation every day who don't earn enough not to qualify for food stamps. In fact, there is a stigma to receiving food stamps. Thirteen million people who actually qualify for food stamp programs or SNAP do not apply to the system, one, because it`s cumbersome and the verification requirements of all of these things, and also the stigma attached to using food stamps or the SNAP card at your local grocery store keeps people away from getting the help that they really need. And Republicans really aren't helping solve the food problem by keeping people stigmatized.
-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center