Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday to call out former Speaker Newt Gingrich for his new-found habit of calling President Obama the 'food stamp president.
Gingrich's repetition of the unsavory moniker, and its racially-tinged subtext, has provoked a significant outcry from minority and food assistance advocates and from liberal news sources like MSNBC.
The GOP primary candidate's fellow conservatives, however, have stuck by Gingrich, pointing to an increase in food stamps under Obama as proof of the former Speaker's claims.
Rep. Gutierrez decided to investigate those claims, and ended up discovering an official he could tout as the real food stamp president: Obama's Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.
'I did my homework. I crunched the numbers.'
I have to admit that when Newt Gingrich first used the phrase 'food stamp president,' I was outraged, the Illinois congressman began.
But then I started looking at the facts. I did my homework, I crunched the numbers, Gutierrez continued.
I think we have to be willing to understand the numbers and speak the truth, even when that truth might hurt.
Gutierrez then unveiled a series of charts outlining the amount of money the food stamp president had invested in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
The president in question, which Gutierrez hadn't yet named, increased spending on food stamps by more than $19 billion, added 11 million people to the program, and increased the amount per benefit for each recipient by around $27, the largest increase by any president in the last thirty years.
And here we have him, Gutierrez said... and showed a picture of Republican President George W. Bush.
To be fair, Gutierrez also added the next commander-in-chief eligible for the title food stamp president: Bush's father.
'You can't redeem them at Tiffany's.'
But Gutierrez wasn't satisfied simply with rejecting the title of food stamp president for Barack Obama. The Illinois congressman also had a bone to pick with Gingrich about the term food stamp president in general.
I support the food stamp program, Gutierrez said, before urging people to call it by its actual name and not something Newt Gingrich thinks is politically punchy.
The purpose [of SNAP] largely is to prevent children and old people from going hungry, he continued, emphasizing those key groups.
SNAP doesn't provide them with some fancy perk from some out of control spending program, he concluded, before adding one more dig: You can't redeem them at Tiffany's which might be another reason Newt Gingrich thinks it's so bad.
'Hunger is colorblind.'
Before Rep. Luis Gutierrez stepped down, however, he had one final point to make, this one aimed at the racial undertones that surround the food stamp program in general.
It is an erroneous but widely believed assumption that the overwhelming majority of food stamp recipients are black, notion Newt Gingrich has enforced in recent speeches.
After thanking Obama for also investing in SNAP, Gutierrez laid down one final statistic.
Just in case his 'food stamp president' name calling was designed to make a political point that he wasn't quite willing to come right out and say... 22 percent of SNAP recipients are black, and 34 percent are white, Gutierrez said.
Because hunger knows no race, or religion, or age, or political party. Hunger is colorblind.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez: George W. Bush Was Real 'Food Stamp President'