California Rep. Jackie Speier waved around a couple of food props yesterday “in an effort to shame Republicans who want to slash $40 billion from the food stamp budget, while they continue to go on ‘lavish’ trips financed by taxpayers and other groups.” Her intended point may have been lost on people who see the words “food stamps” and “steak and vodka” and assume that she was saying that people getting food stamps are gorging on expensive food and liquor — which was, frankly, our first reaction when we saw that combination in RawStory’s headline. Or maybe that’s just us.
Speier contrasted the effects of the proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with the super party funtime meals that congresscritters enjoy while traveling or being lobbied:
“In my district, California 14, we have about 4,000 families who are on food stamps, but some of my colleagues have thousands and thousands more,” Speier explained on Thursday. “Yet, they somehow feel like crusaders, like heroes when they vote to cut food stamps. Some of these same members travel to foreign countries under the guise of official business.”
“They dine at lavish restaurants, eating steak, vodka and even caviar,” she added, showing food props to members of the House. “They receive money to do this. That’s right, they don’t pay out of pocket for these meals.”
Without naming him, Speier referred to the food expenditure report for Iowa congresscanteloupe Steve King on a recent trip to Russia saying he was given
$3,588 for food and lodging during a six-day trip to Russia. He probably drank a fair amount of vodka and probably even had some caviar. That particular member has 21,000 food stamp recipients in his district. One of those people who is on food stamps could live a year on what this congressman spent on food and lodging for six days.”
The Des Moines Register recently calculated that King’s $3,588 budget for food on his Russian trip would equal 881 days of SNAP benefits.
Noting that a number of politicians and activists have taken the “SNAP challenge” — trying to live on the $4.50 a day allotted for food stamp recipients — Speier asked,
“I wonder how many of my Republican colleagues would want to cut food stamps if they had taken the SNAP Challenge … After all, that means no more steak, no more caviar or vodka. Based on these members eating habits, I wonder if they could survive.”
It was not clear what brand of vodka Speier waved during the presentation; we hope it wasn’t this awful tobacco-flavored vodka, which seems like it might actually keep people from ever wanting to eat again.