Food stamp spending has declined for the last two years, with 13.7% of the population currently using the program compared to a high of 14.9% in 2013, but that hasn’t stopped the GOP from looking to cut billions from the program. Many believe that the Democrats making a robust defense of food stamps would be politically unwise, but a new paper suggests this assumption might be incorrect.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, continues to be viewed as a third-rail issue for many political observers. Since the late ’70s (in addition to advocating for cuts), Republicans have waged an ideological war against the very concept of handouts, often tapping into racial and gender stereotypes in the process. Throughout the 1980s, Ronald Reagan frequently chastised SNAP for allowing “some young fellow ahead of you to buy a T-bone steak” while “you were waiting in line to buy hamburger.” Haney-López, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Fifty Years of Coded Racial Appeals Wrecked the Middle Class, points out that this was the toned-down version of Reagan’s original anecdote:
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