As someone who's depended on food stamps a few times in his life, I'll start by saying it's a great program that really helps people who most need it. It is a valuable stitch in a safety net Republicans love to unravel and denigrate. And Newt Gingrich, who has certainly studied his Lee Atwater, certainly knows that the mere mention of food stamps conjures up, for many white Americans, images of black people taking advantage of the program (young bucks buying T-bones is the racist image here). Here's Atwater quote:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.
So when Newt Gingrich calls Obama the Food Stamp President, he knows damn well he's blowing the dog whistle.
But it's more than just racism here. This is Newt's shifting of the blame for the economy on Obama. Newt knows damn well what most Americans don't: food stamp consumption is the Ultimate Lagging Indicator in a bad economy.
Have a look at the ebb and flow of food stamp consumption and you'll see that the economic lag can be 2 to 4 years. It actually makes sense for this number to begin peaking at this moment, 7 quarters from the trough of business activity. It probably gets worse before it gets better, but it holds no sway over the prospects for our recovery.
Fact is, a whole lot more people are hungry (and homeless, broke, without health care, unemployed, and all the other bad things that happen during recessions), because Republican ideology, implemented by President George W Bush, ruined the US economy. Tax cuts for the rich didn't create jobs, and deregulation led to the Inside Job that was the Wall Street Fiasco.
Watch for Newt and the rest of the Insane Clowns to keep trying to shift the blame for Bush's debt, and Bush's economy, onto Obama. And note that under the dog whistle of the southern strategy, the GOP's got a whole lot of blame shifting going on.
So much for the party of responsibility for your actions.