In the decades since President Ronald Reagan introduced the Welfare Queen to the world, privileged living has taken on different trappings from driving a Cadillac and eating steak and lobster. So to raise fears over people misusing food stamps, outlets like Fox News have gone far beyond the Old Gipper’s trusty trope, as Jon Stewart showed on The Daily Show last night.
According to the cable network, people are abusing SNAP by purchasing iPads, cigarettes, and dog food—even cashing in food stamps for gambling cash at casinos. And buying so much seafood: crab legs and wild salmon from organic markets in the East Village! How dare they! “Poor-people salmon should come in a can, from an outer borough,” Stewart mocks after one clip.
Another talking head takes issue with poor people swiping their EBT cards at Disneyland to buy gigantic turkey legs. Attempting to translate the logic in which this causes outrage, Stewart says that if you’re poor and we’re giving you food stamps, the very least you can do is “not spend them on a food that could be used as a weapon in the upcoming class war.”
According to a 2013 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, just 1 percent of SNAP benefits are traded for cash to buy unapproved items like cigarettes or booze. Seafood, however, always has been and continues to be a food item that can be purchased with food stamps—wild and canned salmon alike.