GOP Congressman Glenn Grothman Tells Constituents To Spy On Food Stamp Users

Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-WI)

Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-WI)

Republican congresscritter Glenn Grothman hosted a town hall in Oshkosh this past Friday, during which, according to The, he told attendees to ” keep an eye on the types of things people on Food Share buy at the grocery store or ask people for more information if they boast about being on disability.” (source) Grothman is infamous for saying things that should never be said; this is the same guy who, in 2014, proposed Wisconsinites should work seven days a week.

In an interview with Huffington Post, Grothman said:

Right now in Wisconsin, you’re not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week.

Rep. Grothman also believes homosexuality is a choice, and in 2010, wanted to do away with all sex-ed classes, because he believed some teachers had an agenda for turning kids gay. And in 2004, Grothman wrote an oped where he shared a “story” he hears over and over again about food stamp recipients:

I’ve interviewed over a dozen people who check out people who pay with food stamps and all felt people on food stamps ate better-or at least more costly-than they did. A store manager up north says she can tell who is on food stamps and who is not by what’s in their shopping cart. All had anecdotes about steak or lobsters they would have been reticent to buy themselves. 

He goes on to promote the lie that because poor people are overweight, we should “restrict” their purchases. None of Grothman’s sources are named; he even quotes a “Washington insider.” It’s like reading an article from The Examiner.

For those of us who survived the Reagan administration, this might ring a few bells. Remember Reagan’s welfare queen and the young buck? The welfare queen was an actual person, known as Linda Taylor, but by focusing solely on only her welfare fraud, Reagan ignored the more heinous of her crimes: kidnapping children. Taylor’s race is even called into question, as you can read here. Reagan, during his first run for president in 1976, told his audience how frustrating is must be for them, standing in line to buy hamburger, when some “young buck” is in front of them, buying “t-bone steak” with food stamps. He backed off that incredibly racist phrase, and began retelling the story using “young fellow” instead. Louie Gohmert has opined at length about food stamps; his”more costly” food of choice was king crab legs.

Is there fraud within any government program? Probably. Are we, the taxpayers, often on the hook for that fraud and waste? Unfortunately, yes. Would we like our $15 billion back? You betcha. Wait, what? What $15 billion? Food stamp fraud costs us $15 billion?

No, that’s the amount of money the Pentagon lost in the Iraq war. Lost. Poof. No one can find it. From Mother Jones:

The IG report details how $135 million was paid to the governments of the United Kingdom, South Korea, Poland, and others contributing troops to Iraq without any mechanism for determining how it was used. Another $1.8 billion in seized Iraqi assets were also simply given away, without any accountability. IG investigators examined 53 payment invoices. Not one made note of the money’s ultimate destination.

Together with a separate Pentagon IG report released last November, which showed the Defense Department could not account for at least $5 billion issued to Iraqi security forces (causing it to lose track of nearly all of the 13,508 rifles, machine guns, and RPGs it provided to Iraqi troops), today’s report sets the new total of Pentagon Iraq funds lost or stolen at almost $15 billion.

In 2013, Reuters investigated what they called “The Pentagon’s doctored ledgers.” Journalist Gary Cameron spoke with a woman named Linda Woodford, who detailed her job with the U.S Department of Defense: inserting phony numbers into DOD accounts.

The data flooded in just two days before deadline. As the clock ticked down, Woodford says, staff were able to resolve a lot of the false entries through hurried calls and emails to Navy personnel, but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” – in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called “plugs,” to make the Navy’s totals match the Treasury’s.

Reuters points out the Defense Department’s 2012 budget was $565.8 billion, “more than the annual defense budgets of the 10 next largest military spenders combined, including Russia and China. How much of that money is spent as intended is impossible to determine.” Impossible to determine.

No, the real problem is “young bucks” buying t-bone steak, or anonymous cashiers who can always tell who’s on food stamps because those people only buy lobster. Politicians who don’t understand that cheap food is filled with saturated fats, sodium, and sugar, all of which lead to obesity. Politicians like Glenn Grothman. Wouldn’t it be interesting to challenge Rep. Grothman to live for a month on food stamps? Have his constituents follow him around as he grabs t-bone steaks, lobster, and king crab legs.

While Reuters was looking into the insane amount of waste and fraud at the Pentagon, that same year, Fox was interviewing a surfer, and using him as the poster child for everything wrong with food stamps. During that report, libertarian political scientist, and noted white nationalist, Charles Murray said the stigma surrounding food stamps is a good thing, a necessary evil. Wasn’t it Jesus who said “Blessed are those who shame the poor, and cut their access to food, and blame them for being overweight, while dancing cheek to cheek with ConAgra and ADM, taking lavish vacations, and using taxpayer money to decorate an office like ‘Downtown Abbey.'”?

It’s easy to blame the poor for everything. A single parent can’t afford their very own politician, or PR team. The elderly couple living on meager Social Security, who rely on heating assistance to make it through the winter, or the homeless veteran, dependent on food banks, have no power. So many conservatives attack the least of us, while ignoring the powerful who scam the system every single day.

There is no shame in being poor, in having to ask for help. There is a lot of shame in being someone like Glenn Grothman.

Erin Nanasi

Erin Nanasi is the creator of The Bachmann Diaries: Satirical Excerpts from Michele Bachmann's Fictional Diary. She hates writing about herself in the third person. Erin enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. And wombats. Come visit Erin on on Facebook. She also can be found on Twitter at @WriterENanasi.


Facebook comments

  • FD Brian

    while he is at it, why not come out against people and corporations who are cheating on their taxes.

    • Jim Bean

      That’s where Hillary was last month. Doing speaking engagements for the Canadian Imperial of Bank of Commerce. Yeah, they’re the ones repeatedly accused of helping American’s avoid the taxes they owe, but you already knew that.

      • FD Brian

        Awesome, so now you’re for people not cheating on their taxes and hiding money in off shore accounts.

  • DMJ

    How do these people know who is on food stamps. And how are those that are on it affording things like steaks and Lobster on a fixed monthly income? This is clearly just posturing to gain support from those with no real understanding of how food stamps work

    • Cemetery Girl

      Having worked as a cashier for way too many years, depending on the system of the store the cashier will know which people use food stamps to pay. It really depends on how the store processes transactions. Other than that, people don’t know how the purchases were made. There are judgmental cashiers out there. I’ve worked with them. (And they aren’t much more pleasant to work with either.) Personally I didn’t judge customers for what they purchased or how it was paid. Someone buys some steak with food stamps? It is an accepted purchase and what do I know about the customer’s reasoning? Nothing. The only products I was paid to analyze if a customer should be able to purchase was alcohol and tobacco (which aren’t covered by food stamps). Other than judging based on age if a customer could purchase those I had no business making judgements about purchases. Not every cashier feels that way though. Those that feel it is their duty to make judgements about what customers buy (and later complain about it) usually aren’t a picnic to work with either.

      • Jen

        Yep, we don’t know why they are buying that steak. Maybe their kid just got an award at school, and they are celebrating. It is a choice, and the people who use food stamps know it. How many other meals that month will be meager because they made the CHOICE to splurge on a steak for one meal. Of course, maybe that steak is going to be cut into small pieces and made into stew or stir fry with a lot of veggies, potatoes or rice to stretch it as far as they can. Just because a person is poor or on assistance does not mean we should be able to judge what is in their cart.
        I recently became unemployed, so I applied for assistance. I qualified for food assistance, and I get a whopping $16 per month for myself and my 14 yr old son. Hopefully, I will soon be employed again and will not need the assistance, but I am grateful for any little bit to help me through this rough time. Food assistance is for FOOD, users should be free to CHOOSE what food they buy, prepare and eat. I actually carefully chose what I put in my cart on the trip to the grocery store where I was using my assistance card just because of bigots in this world who may have judged my choices.

      • Cemetery Girl

        Best of luck on your job search!!! Absolutely ridiculous that you or anyone else is judged for a whole, whopping $16 a month. Some cashiers will be judgmental (but really, most of them are just miserable people to be around anyway), but some of the cashiers use the same assistance.
        Years ago I quit working as a cashier so I could go back to college. I’m married, I have a herd of kids, and I was only working as a cashier then to provide our family with extra income. I ended up pregnant with our last child, but I still continued on with college (and still rocked a 4.0). I signed up for WIC (which has a much higher income threshold than other program, much!) I go through the line of a cashier I had worked with, and she wasn’t a coworker I really liked to work with. She sees I have WIC and says “must be nice to quit working and live off tax payers.”

      • Jen

        WIC is a great program. My son became a father at 17, and his daughter qualified for WIC. To make a long story short, my granddaughter’s mother ended up in the Hospital in ICU, and I was the one who took over the WIC checks to get her foods.
        There was one middle aged lady cashier who was really nice to me, I explained the situation, and she helped me get the correct items, and maximize the fresh fruits and vegetable amount.

  • wendy

    How about cut out food stamps altogether? The poor will eventually die out which will make this country a much better place to live. And the poor get medical too? What kind of system would want to help the unfortunate? The rich need all the help.