Rep. Allen West On Food Stamps: ‘That’s How You Enslave The American People’

As if poor people didn’t have enough to worry about, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) has given them one more: enslavement.

West, speaking at the Broward County Lincoln Day Dinner this past Saturday, warned the crowd about the danger of food stamps for American society. “In the last 10 years,” West said, the “food stamp program that has gone from about $20.6 billion to over $75 billion.” The Florida congressmen saw this increase not as a society practicing compassion for its most needy, but as a more nefarious plot. “That’s not how you empower the American people,” West declared. “That’s how you enslave the American people.”

WEST: What have we seen happen recently, in the last 10 years? A food stamp program that has gone from about $20.6 billion to over $75 billion in allocation of funds. A 267 percent increase. That’s not how you empower the American people. That’s how you enslave the American people. That’s how you drive toward economic dependence instead of economic freedom.

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Of course, there is a very good reason for the rise in demand for food stamps: the Great Recession. The economic downturn threw millions of Americans out of work, and the government has rightfully aided those who are down on their luck. As the economy recovers, the demand for food stamps is projected to decrease.

Far from being a pernicious plot to enslave the American people, food stamps are currently working just as they’re intended to: to ensure that those who live in poverty get enough to eat. As the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, food stamps are a “powerful anti-poverty program” that “lifted about 4 million Americans above the poverty line in 2010, including about 2 million children.”

Still, the situation for these Americans remains perilous, at best. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is currently trying to slash food stamp funding, a proposal that West voted for.