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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Ken Langone, Co-Founder, Home Depot:
“Hell, people use food stamps to buy marijuana”
[Richard Drew / AP]

Remember last time you went up to a pot dealer and he swiped your EBT card so you could get some good “greens”? No? Neither do I. But Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone seemed quite worried about this happening, when he appeared recently on Fox News.

Langone went on and on about how Donald Trump’s budget cuts are right to target the food stamp program — and not the bloated military budget — so that billionaires can pay less taxes. The wealthy Langone insisted that food stamp fraud is somehow rampant, even though such claims have been repeatedly debunked, reports Yesha Callahan at The Root.

“How do we make sure that food stamps are being used for what they’re called, food?” Langone asked, making it pretty clear that he’s never been on food stamps, and is completely unaware of how the program works. “And this, to me, is part of the problem.”

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Where your tax money really goes: Somewhere in the tiny light-blue sliver at the top is the entire food stamp (SNAP) program
[National Priorities Project]

There’s no avoiding the painfully obvious fact that billionaire Langone didn’t bother to educate himself, instead choosing to proudly display his ignorance on national TV.

“Hell, people use food stamps to buy marijuana — that’s illegal — or cocaine, or whatever the hell else people use to get high,” he claimed. “How do we make sure that we don’t take a system that is well-intentioned that becomes badly abused?”

Not mentioned, of course, by Langone was the fact that when states have attempted to drug-test public assistance recipients — and spent a shit-ton of money doing it — they caught almost nobody using drugs.

Langone’s ill-informed comments came during an interview with Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto.” He was discussing Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget, which includes a proposal to cut Medicaid by $800 billion over the next 10 years.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, would lose nearly $200 million under Trump’s budget. That $200 million is just a minuscule drop in the bucket, of course, when compared to huge military contracts, riddled with fraud and waste. Somehow, the right wingers never seem concerned about that.

We lose up to $400 billion annually for tax evasion. That’s five times more than the entire SNAP program costs to (temporarily) feed 44 million people and get them through a rough spot.

But of course, it’s always easier to blame poor people than to actually address the problem, because doing THAT might piss off wealthy campaign donors.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 44 million Americans participated in the food stamp program last year. More than 75 percent of those people worked a job in the year before or after they received the benefits.

Each tax dollar spent on SNAP generates at least $1.84 in economic activity. That number is low, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities at the Department of Agriculture, which puts the number at $9 of economic activity for every dollar spent on SNAP.

This supports demand for food and agricultural products, as well as jobs in those sectors, helping the economy. According to the Congressional Budget Office, SNAP is one of the most cost-effective of all available spending and tax options for boosting growth and jobs.

Each billion dollars of retail food demand from SNAP generates an estimated 3,300 jobs.

“While there is always room for improvement, it is a clear exaggeration to suggest that fraud is widespread within SNAP,” according to Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, M.D. About 1 cent per dollar of SNAP benefits is misused, according to the latest numbers, down from 3.8 cents in 1993.

The following categories are strictly prohibited: beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco, and any nonfood items, (e.g. pet foods, soaps, paper products, and household supplies), vitamins and medicines, and prepared hot foods (including restaurant foods). Travel is not supported by SNAP.

SNAP’s current numbers of about 1 in 7 Americans reflect the fact that more households are experiencing hardship because of current economic conditions.

Langone’s remarks immediately sparked on online backlash. Many are calling for a boycott of Home Depot. I know I won’t be going there anytime soon.

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