by Max Brantley
U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton wants you to believe a bunch of SUV-driving, iPhone-waving, steak-eating welfare cheaters are dining out on lobster and caviar in the federal nutrition assistance program known colloquially as food stamps.
Facts don't count with Cotton — inflaming prejudice with hoary myth works so much better politically — but I thought I'd provide some above anyway.
Three-fourths of the assistance — the ability to get about $121 a month per person for food purchases (not vodka or champagne) — goes to families with children. Almost half goes to working families. A third goes to families with disabled or elderly members. 89 percent of the families who qualify are earning below $22,000 for a family of four. The average Arkansas household gets $282 for food each month, or about $9 per day. You wouldn't need an SUV way-back to hold $282 in groceries, much less filet mignon.
Also, here's the breakdown in the 4th Congressional District, currently represented in Congress by Club for Growth designee Tom Cotton. Recipients of assistance are split about equally between white and black families, by the way. Almost 80 percent of the families are working. In one in four families, at least two members of the family are working, but still qualify for the meager federal assistance that Tom Cotton wants to slash.