In Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, the Republican crusade to reward large corporations while punishing the poor has hit a snag.
A bill proposed by Republican state legislators would force recipients of food stamps to spend at least two-thirds of their benefits on items from a list of “healthy foods” while outright banning the purchase of certain ‘junk foods’ such as chips and soda. This is a great, petty, way for the state GOP to thumb their nose at the FDA, which has officially stated it has no plan to categorize foods for SNAP recipients. It’s also a wonderful way to show the poor how committed Republicans are to making their lives harder. Republicans should know that quite a lot of fast and junk food is heavily subsidized, making it much cheaper than healthy foods, leading to obesity among the poor. Taking junk food away from those living on meager food stamps allowances could be tantamount to starving them. It also arrogantly assumes that being poor means someone doesn’t know how to feed themselves and their family.
Unfortunately for the Republicans who hatched this genius plot, huge corporate purveyors of junk food, including Kraft Foods and PepsiCo, are adamantly opposed to the bill. A similar bill was proposed in the previous legislative session, passed the State Assembly 68-26, but didn’t make it to the Senate floor. This year, however, Republicans are increasing their grip on the State Senate. Given the huge amount of lobbying that felled the bill the last time it was proposed, though, it’s unclear that it could even get to the Governor’s desk.
This Republican attack on junk food is extremely hypocritical. Ever since First Lady Michelle Obama launched her initiative to combat childhood obesity, the GOP has believed that junk food is as American as those apple pies you get at McDonald’s. In 2011, the House GOP classified pizza as a vegetable for school lunches to “prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations.” And in 2013, when Sarah Palin sucked down a Big Gulp full of soda at CPAC, conservatives described her as a ‘new Statue of Liberty.’