Telling people what to eat is something you would typically expect a Republican to accuse a Democrat of doing, but as far as I know no Democrats have called for micromanaging the menus of food stamp recipients.
New York State Senator Patty Ritchie (R) has introduced legislation that would prohibit food stamp recipients from using their benefits to purchase cake and steak; an impossible proposal for more than one reason.
“Many of these items aren’t just unhealthy, they’re also expensive. This legislation would not only help low-income families and individuals stretch their food budgets further and promote health and nutrition, it would also protect taxpayers from abuse of a program that’s intended to help those who have fallen on hard times.”
Under current law, EBT cards can be used to purchase “non-essential” items—including unhealthy foods like candy, cakes and soda, as well as luxury items, like steak and lobster—that are subject to state and local sales tax.
Given the severe backlash directed at First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy school lunch program, it may or may not come as a shock to see Republicans try to mandate certain nutritional choices. And speaking of which, since when is steak unhealthy? If you know what cut to buy and where to buy it, it may not even be that expensive. Wouldn't this prohibit families from buying a chuck roast? Roast and potatoes is a staple than can feed an entire family with leftovers to spare.
If you're looking for another cost effective cut, I recommend a flat iron cut. Skirt steak is also cheaper than most other cuts and meats and can be used for many things.
But I digress.
Practically speaking, this is a bad idea, but it's also virtually impossible. Nothing would prevent recipients from using cash to purchase steak and, in any event, federal law does not allow for restrictions on what foods SNAP benefits can be used for.
This ridiculous bill is dead on arrival, but we shouldn't take federal law for granted. I have no doubt that a Republican presidential administration backed by a Republican-controlled Congress would amend federal law to allow for such restrictions in the first fiscal year they have control.
There are too many ways a Republican administration could make life much more difficult for everyone to list.