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Boomtown 2: Food Stamps and the Business of Government

If you weren't able to watch Sean Hannity's Fox News program last night, you can watch one of the segments here. The Government Accountability Initiative describes the program as "(h)ow the industry grew into a $75 billion-a-year giant."

The links for the other segments can be found at this Breitbart TV webpage.

One of the video clips played by Sean Hannity has Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) saying that every dollar spent on food stamps results in $1.71 going back into the economy. Also there's a clip of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) saying, "if you want to create jobs, the quickest way to do it is to provide more funding for food stamps." A typical Keynesian argument. However, in a Politifact segment, the Austin American-Statesman looked at a similar argument made by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) that "$1 of unemployment benefits boosts the economy by $1.61." In short, the American-Statesman wrote:

"In a Dec. 8, 2011, opinion piece on the Huffington Post website, the Austin Democrat quoted a little "Workin’ Man" from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and then listed bold-faced "Facts" including, "Fact: One economist estimates that for every $1 we spent on unemployment insurance benefits, we get $1.61 in economic activity back."

That rang a bell. We were already checking a nearly identical statement on a Web page posted by the Democrats of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, and we’d found that another PolitiFact writer checked a similar claim in 2010.

"Were they all the same? Basically, yes, Doggett spokeswoman Sarah Dohl told us: All three statements relied on a single estimate from Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi."

The newspaper's Politifact explanation is quite detailed, but their "ruling" was:

"Doggett cites an economist’s projection that the country gets a 61 percent return on each additional dollar in unemployment aid. But his "fact" overlooks another fact: Economists are divided over whether unemployment aid increases GDP.  Also, Doggett’s statement specifies a figure from mid-2010 that’s been out of date for about a year. A failure to update it is like failing to update the national employment rates.

"The only certain fact here is that an economist did once estimate $1.61.

"Our sense is you can’t take Doggett’s statement to the bank. We rate it Mostly False." (emphasis added)

Breitbart News has several stories related to Sean Hannity's Boomtown 2 series. In one, Tom Fitton writing about crony capitalism and "the food stamp army," beginning:

"The Obama administration is proudly shattering welfare records with an astonishing number of people collecting public benefits long term, especially food stamps.

"In fact, as I discussed in a special to be aired on Hannity tonight, Obama and his friends have actually found a way to meld corporate cronyism with food stamp abuse to line their pockets while undermining our election systems at the same time.

"Under Obama, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, has exploded with a record number of people – 46 million and growing – getting free groceries from the American taxpayer. Adding insult to injury, a federal audit revealed last year that many who don’t qualify for food stamps now receive them under a new “broad-based” eligibility program that disregards income and asset requirements.

"Obama says the food stamp extension is part of his intention to eradicate “food insecure households.” However, it’s really part of a massive redistribution of wealth. Last year, taxpayers were forced to pay more than $80 billion, including an estimated $750 million a year in outright fraud."

Then Tony Lee writes about how corporations "profit off (the) $75 billion food stamp industry." He also writes of how corporations are "'incentivized' to maximize food stamp transactions." Separately, he also writes about how food stamp use breaks down the "DNA of self-reliance.

Other Breitbart articles about Boomtown 2 include: Wynton Hall writing that "taxpayers have spent $15 trillion on 'War on Poverty";  in another, Hall says there are "126 federal anti-poverty programs"; and. Hall writing of how a "fast food giant lobbied to get into (the) food stamp game."

Kudos to Sean Hannity, Fox News, Breitbart News, and the Government Accountability Institute for the Boomtown 2 series.

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