Missouri GOP Rep. Rick Brattin is back, and this time he wants to ban poor people from purchasing steak and seafood, because only rich people should be allowed to eat good food.
Coming off the embarrassment of being mocked nationwide for proposing failed legislation that would have required women to seek permission from men in order to have an abortion, Brattin decided his next bill would target food stamp recipients.
The food nutrition pyramid requires protein as part of a healthy daily diet. Preferably, people should be eating meats that are rich in nutrients and not processed.
But Brattin thinks poor people should be restricted from buying certain meats because they are too fancy to be eaten by those in poverty. So he introduced House Bill 813, which says,
A recipient of supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits shall not use
such benefits to purchase cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak.
In fact, the only kind of fish Brattin would allow poor people to buy is canned tuna and fish sticks. And why is Brattin so obsessed with prohibiting the purchase of steak and seafood by poor people? Because he claims to have seen people purchase these items with their EBT cards.
According to the Washington Post:
Brattin admits that the language might need some tweaking. “My intention wasn’t to get rid of canned tuna and fish sticks,” he said. But he also insists that people are abusing the system by purchasing luxury foods, and believes that that must be stopped, even if it ends up requiring the inclusion of other less luxurious items.
“I have seen people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards,” he said. “When I can’t afford it on my pay, I don’t want people on the taxpayer’s dime to afford those kinds of foods either.”
Of course, Brattin is not only a first class asshole, he’s also full of shit. Missouri legislators are paid $35,915 per year plus a $104 a day per diem for miscellaneous costs such as food. Seeing as how a steak can be purchased for under $20.00 at Walmart, it’s pretty safe to assume Brattin can afford to buy prime cuts of beef from time to time. Filet mignon is even cheaper. Brattin can easily purchase filet mignon, a package of two in fact, at a Missouri Walmart for under $9.00.
Brattin makes more than twice the annual earnings of a family who is eligible to receive food assistance, and he probably makes a mint during tax refund season considering he has five kids. And you can bet he isn’t allowing his children to live on fish sticks and tuna. And apparently, Brattin doesn’t understand that his own pay is courtesy of the very taxpayers that he has been attacking relentlessly with stupid bills.
In addition, SNAP rules allow recipients to purchase steak and seafood because they are food items and it would be costly and burdensome to restrict these items. Brattin’s bill also has no teeth because only Congress can change SNAP rules.
According to the USDA:
Seafood, steak, and bakery cakes are also food items and are therefore eligible items
Since the current definition of food is a specific part of the Act, any change to this definition would require action by a member of Congress. Several times in the history of SNAP, Congress had considered placing limits on the types of food that could be purchased with program benefits. However, they concluded that designating foods as luxury or non-nutritious would be administratively costly and burdensome.
In other words, Brattin’s bill would cost taxpayers more money to implement. So if he really wants to do it, perhaps the price should be taken out of his own paycheck.
The fact is that steak and seafood are important sources of natural nutrients that are essential in our diets. Banning people from eating these foods just because they use food stamps is heartless, and only demonstrates that Republicans are waging a petty and nasty war against the poor. If Brattin and his Republican colleagues want to stop food stamp recipients from buying certain foods, the best use of their time should be spent raising the minimum wage higher than the $7.65 an hour as it currently stands in the state so that the working poor do not have to rely on government assistance to help them get by. Because a person can’t buy steak or seafood with food stamps if they don’t need food stamps in the first place.