Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich once declared President Barack Obama to be the “food stamp president.”
Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not only advertising the use of food stamps, it is taking extra steps to promote use of the government program.
Now liberals are trying to portray the program as a way to help the poor, while conservatives and libertarians have attacked it as a way to increase dependency at a time when the federal government should be looking for savings.
Currently 46.4 million people in the U.S. benefit from food stamps, and the federal government spent over $75 billion on food stamps in 2011, up from $34.6 in 2008.
The USDA has spent over $2.5 million on radio and TV advertisements in targeted states.
These targeted areas include the New York metro area, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and California – focusing mostly on seniors.
The USDA estimates that more than two thirds of eligible seniors below the poverty line do not take advantage of the program.
The program also targets Latinos and other immigrant groups at or below the poverty line.
The USDA started running paid ads in 2004 under the direction of President George W. Bush, but President Obama made acquiring benefits for jobless adults easier in the wake of the recession, and increased the monthly benefit by 15 percent.
Much of the increase in spending on food stamps occurred as a result of the stimulus in 2009.