If you have been watching the GOP debates and heard how Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum portrays recipients of food stamps, then you have all the right to be angry. This is exactly what Ronnie McHugh of Spring City, PA. felt when she watched Gingrich get standing ovation from the crowd.
McHugh is not the stereotypical ‘leech’ that Gingrich and many Republicans portray in their speeches. She used to have a decent salary before she was laid off from her work due to the recession. She is now 64 years old, divorced, lives off $810 a month in Social Security and depends on Food Stamps to put food on her table.
“If they had a chance to sit in my shoes, they would be happy to have a program to help people who did work all their life,” is her angry retort to Gingrich and the Republicans who applauded his apparent lambasting of food stamp recipients.
Linda Miles is another individual who is far from the stereotypical black woman who sits on her butt all day to collect food stamps. She is an Army veteran with a master’s degree but was laid off from her job as a substitute teacher due to budget cuts in Philadelphia. She has started an unpaid internship just to keep herself moving.
“I pay taxes. I don’t steal anything from the government. I paid my dues to society; I’m a veteran. You took something from me by taking away my job. I wouldn’t need food stamps if you hadn’t taken my job,” she says.
It is convenient for many Republicans to blame Democratic policies for burgeoning numbers in the food stamp program – particularly the broad eligibility rules pushed by Obama.
They forget that an unemployment rate as high as 10% and increasing poverty forces people to depend on food stamps – even if they do not want to and have exhausted all other means to get a job and feed themselves.