Commentary

Critics Should Focus on SNAP Reform, Not Attacking LePage

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The nonsensical backlash aimed at Gov. LePage following his attempt to ban junk food purchases with food stamps puts on full display just how out of touch the Democratic establishment is when it comes to welfare programs.

Democrats continue to say they don’t want Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, benefits being used to buy junk food, but they oppose the governor’s effort to get the federal government to allow Maine to prohibit the purchase of those items with Maine food stamp benefits. There are countless items in any given supermarket that cannot be purchased with food stamps. It would be equally as easy for the food stamp system to reject the purchase of candy, soda and other foods of no nutritional value.

Democrats, including those who serve with me on the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, know this. Any observer of the issue would recognize that simply prohibiting the purchase of junk food with food stamps is the quickest, easiest, most effective and obvious way to prevent junk food from being purchased with food stamps.

Instead, the liberal defenders of the welfare status quo want to continue to rely on the tangled web of government programs and bureaucracies that “educate” food stamp recipients about healthy eating choices.

In reality, we wouldn’t need all of those government programs if we simply said “no” to buying Mars bars and Mountain Dew with a welfare benefit that has “nutrition” in its name.

Democrats have unsuccessfully argued that healthy food is unaffordable and that needs to be our focus instead of stopping our tax dollars from going toward the purchase of unhealthy foods. But one look at the Hannaford weekly flier shows boneless chicken breast at $2.49 per pound, pork chops for $1.99, and apples and pears for 99 cents per pound. In contrast, Doritos are $3.99 and a 24-pack of Coke is $7.99.

Though Democrats love to regurgitate statistics about child poverty in Maine, they ignore that when some of Maine’s most significant welfare reforms were enacted, the number of children living in poverty actually decreased, from 54,000 in 2012 to 45,000 in 2013.

*To view the full article, visit the PPH.

About Deb Sanderson

Deborah Sanderson, a state representative from Chelsea, is the ranking House Republican on the Health and Human Services Committee.

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