Rick Santorum: People Are Fat, So How Can There Be A Food Problem?

Ah, jeez, not another heartless, soulless, cruel Republican elite telling us people live like kings and queens on welfare. As if Rick Santorum hasn’t done enough damage bashing gays, undocumented immigrants and those of us who, call us crazy, continue to act like Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, he’s taking shots at both the poor and the obese now – a two’fer – saying, “If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger [problem]?”


Well, Rick, let us explain it to you in terms even a 5-year-old can understand: Food insecurity often leads to obesity. See, the diets that promote good health and lean physiques are largely the ones that poor people and even most middle-class families can’t afford. Whole Foods is not the store of choice for those on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), a government program which provides about $32 a week in food assistance. The poor can’t afford pricey farmers’ markets, can’t afford the leaner cuts of meat, use their meager food budgets on low-ticket, high caloric items like pasta and rice and bread and hot dogs and generic cereal, maybe a little bologna now and then, if they can afford it, and peanut butter. For those on SNAP, fresh fruit and produce is nothing but a dream. For those on SNAP, fresh fish with a sprinkle of lemon is, like, what? Spaghetti O’s three for a buck is a meal. Ramen Noodles, a staple. If you have $1.50 to spend per meal, which is about what SNAP provides, you’re not likely to have a lovely salad with grilled chicken strips and low-fat dressing.

Santorum, an attorney, while claiming his family lives “paycheck to paycheck,” had a net worth of between $522,000 and $1.8 million in 2006. Let’s assume, for the record, that his personal wealth hasn’t fallen off so much since then that he and his family would qualify for SNAP.

Last month, Congressional Democrats, Jackie Spier, Jan Schakowsky, Donna Christensen, and Joe Courtney (along with his wife and daughter), among others, took the SNAP challenge in an attempt to highlight how difficult it is to eat on the SNAP allotment. As I noted in a recent article, Republicans – including, apparently, those like Rick Santorum who are grooming themselves to continue the tradition of wreaking havoc on the poor – have been quietly attacking SNAP, trying to turn it into a state-run block grant instead of a federal commitment and attempting to reduce its funding. Republicans say the program has gotten “out of control.” Yes, $32 a week in groceries for a family is clearly reckless spending.


The SNAP challenge is symbolic of the classic Democrat versus Republican humanitarian challenge: While Democrats are trying to feel the pain of the poor, Republican elitists like Eric Cantor, who’s voted to cut SNAP funding, was recently spotted eating a $365 meal – and not just once. Senator Jeff Sessions, who not only voted for cuts, but also wanted recipients of SNAP to jump through hoops to receive benefits, spent $1,800 on meals in August. Paul Ryan, Mr. “Cut Everything That Benefits the Poor and Elderly,” relaxed over a $350 bottle of wine.

Maybe when the poor start to practice cannibalism to avoid starvation, Santorum will admit a food problem exists.