Debunking the 7 Biggest Lies Republicans Use to Vilify the Poor

If you accuse Republicans of hating the poor, naturally, they’ll vehemently deny that accusation. The evidence is overwhelming that they do, but the GOP will never admit that a large part of how it’s built the party’s economic platform is based on creating a divide by painting some as the “workers” (givers) and others as “lazy moochers looking for a free handout” (the takers). They’ve done such a masterful job at doing this that there are literally millions of Republicans living on government programs who’ll not only vote for politicians who are trying to cut their benefits, but they’ll also deny that they need the government’s help to survive.

Basically what the GOP has done is convinced millions of people that their lives are much more difficult (and their taxes much higher) because of all the “lazy moochers” who don’t want to work and just want a free handout from the government, paid for with their tax dollars.

Now, to be fair, that is true for some. Many liberals will claim that welfare abuse is not an issue, but that’s not entirely true. While it’s definitely not the sort of issue Republicans claim that it is (not even close), there’s still plenty of abuse that goes on and I fully believe we need to do what we can to make sure those receiving benefits actually need them.

However, what Republicans have done is basically painted the vast majority of people on government programs as “moochers who just don’t want to work” — which isn’t even remotely based in reality.

So, in the spirit of debunking the propaganda Republicans use to vilify the poor, I thought I’d tackle some of their biggest lies.

1. Most people receiving SNAP (food stamps) are able-bodied Americans looking for a “free ride”: In fact98 percent of households that receive SNAP benefits are households that either have young children, someone who’s disabled or they’re senior citizens.

2. People who get welfare just don’t want to work: Actually, around 75 percent of people who are being helped by some sort of government program to help poor people are members of a family where someone works. Another way to put that is, because so many companies pay such lousy wages, the taxpayers are subsidizing the employees of these companies who don’t earn enough to take care of their families. But, by all means, keep blaming the workers instead of the employers who aren’t paying them enough to survive.

3. Welfare programs are draining this country: Actually, a program like SNAP (food stamps) makes up less than four percent of our total budget. Meanwhile, we lose up to $500 billion annually to tax evasion, which is six times more than the entire SNAP program costs to help feed 45 million people (mostly children, the elderly and the disabled). You tell me what’s truly “draining this country.”

4, The number of people on welfare has skyrocketed under President Obama: While it’s true that spending on SNAP has gone up under President Obama — that trend began right around the beginning of the Bush administration. Obama’s presidency, while not reversing that trend, isn’t the cause for the increase in spending on this program.

5. Conservatives are the ones trying to earn their living while liberals just want to create a “nanny state”: Actually, based on this chart, the states that lead the nation in reliance upon federal money are almost all “red states.” In fact, the highest recipients are Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Dakota, Missouri, Montana and Georgia.

6. Illegal immigrants can get SNAP: Actually, no, they can’t. While children of illegal immigrants who were born here can qualify for these programs because they’re American citizens, illegal immigrants who are adults do not quality for “food stamps.”

7. Most people on welfare are minorities: This is mentioned by Republicans to create the racial divide they use to stir the “angry white person” pot which helps the party get people to vote for them, but it’s simply not true. White people, by far, are the biggest recipients of SNAP benefits in the country. It’s true that per capita African-Americans get benefits at a higher rate than white people, but it’s completely ignorant to ignore the systematic racism that’s directly responsible for higher poverty rates among African-Americans. Still, overall, white Americans, by far, are the largest beneficiary of SNAP benefits.

While there are plenty more, those are some of the main lies Republicans use to vilify the poor. I’m sure these facts won’t make one bit of impact on the vast majority of the millions of conservatives out there who believe the right-wing propaganda against those living in poverty in this country. After all, millions of those who support this ignorant, right-wing rhetoric against the poor are people who use government programs to survive — while simultaneously supporting the party that’s trying to cut those very same benefits.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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