Saturday, February 20, 2016

The GOP Food Police

It's weird, when Democrats make suggestions about what people should eat because of the nation's obesity epidemic, they are called "fascists" and worse.  When Republicans order people on food stamps to do it by law, they are hailed as heroic protectors of tax dollars.

Low-income New Yorkers could soon find Big Brother riffling through their grocery carts, if state Sens. Patty Ritchie (R) and Michael Nozzolio (R) have their way.

The two lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban food stamps cards from being used to buy a laundry list of foods, arguing both that poor people are too fat and that they’re currently allowed to enjoy foods that are too tasty.

“At a time when our state and nation are struggling with an obesity epidemic, it is critically important that taxpayer funded programs help low income consumers make wise and healthy food choices,” reads a legislative memo accompanying the bill. “The purpose of SNAP is to promote good nutrition, but current rules allow the purchase of junk food and luxury items like high-end steaks and lobster.”

If the law were to pass and receive federal approval, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would cease being a valid form of payment for a variety of purchases.

Sandwiches prepared at bodegas and delis, for instance, could no longer be bought with SNAP anywhere in New York. And bottled water, seltzer, ice, honey-roasted nuts, and vegetable seeds or seedlings intended to be planted at home would all be cut off, according to a review of state sales tax rules.

That’s only the first stage of the ban. The bill also instructs a state agency to go through the list of tax-exempt foods, too, and decide which of them should count as “luxuries” that should no longer be covered under SNAP. This is the provision hoping to target “high-end steaks and lobster” — but there’s no reason to believe the hunt for “luxuries” would stop there. The list of groceries that are exempt from state sales taxes, and that could potentially be targeted by this second stage of the Ritchie and Nozzolio bill, includes staples like baking products, bouillon, cereal, instant breakfast mix, dried fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, all seafood, poultry, and meat products, and all sauces and gravies, the state rules indicate.

Ritchie and Nozzolio aren’t the first conservatives to focus on cracking down on SNAP benefits. Such “junk food bans” have been attempted repeatedly by state lawmakers since 2003, when then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) first tried out the idea in Minnesota. Since then, the idea’s been debated in Maine, Texas, Iowa, California, Florida, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Texas, South Carolina, and Delaware.

How can you be fat if you're poor?  Must mean you're lazy, so let's punish you. You don't like it? Stop being poor. Freedom to eat what you want is for Real Americans, not you poor lazy people.

Republicans really are great, right?  When do we get to the "gruel rule" to replace SNAP?

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