Newt Gingrich’s new messaging strategy has been to tell Republican candidates to label Democrats “the party of food stamps,” while, claiming the GOP is in turn “the party of paychecks.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) fired back at Gingrich yesterday. “There is some subliminal message that is being sent out there about us and them,” she said, adding that food stamps are “the biggest bang for the buck” in terms of economic stimulus.
Last night on Fox News, Gingrich responded. “She seemed to get very upset,” he said. “She says that for every dollar a person receives in food stamps, $1.79 is put back in the economy,” host Greta Van Susteren noted. But Gingrich couldn’t quite wrap his head around the fact that food stamps have a stimulative effect on the economy:
GINGRICH: Well, you know, I carry around a bumper sticker that says 2 plus 2 equals 4. So I’d be very curious how a dollar given to somebody becomes a $1.79. And I think if we could get that to work with the U.S. Treasuries, so if people gave the Treasury $1,000, it became $1,790, we could pay off the federal debt and never worry about spending or anything. I mean, I — you know, somehow, I don’t understand how liberal math turns $1 into $1.79.
But Pelosi is correct. CNN reported that she actually understated the stimulative effect of food stamps, noting that Pelosi said “that $1.79 is put back into the economy” when someone uses $1 worth of food stamps, but “[t]he U.S. Department of Agriculture cites an even higher figure of $1.84.” In 2009, the Wall Street Journal explained this alleged “liberal math” that Gingrich doesn’t understand:
Money from the program — officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — percolates quickly through the economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculates that for every $5 of food-stamp spending, there is $9.20 of total economic activity, as grocers and farmers pay their employees and suppliers, who in turn shop and pay their bills.
While other stimulus money has been slow to circulate, the food-stamp boost is almost immediate, with 80% of the benefits being redeemed within two weeks of receipt and 97% within a month, the USDA says.
CNN reported in 2008 on a Moody’s study finding that “the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the food-stamp program.”
There are “some things that annoy me,” CNN’s John King said this week referring to Gingrich’s “party of food stamps” strategy. “One thing [the election] is not about is whether Democrats like putting people on food stamps.” “What does that have to do with it? Let me let you in on a little fact of life,” King later said, “[I] grew up on food stamps.”
Indeed, as Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert once observed, just like the truth about food stamps, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”