Food-stamp use reached a record 46.7 million people in June, the government said, as Democrats prepare to nominate President Barack Obama for a second term with the economy as a chief issue in the campaign. The deficit just went to the six trillion mark, all obama’s…
North Carolina, where Democrats are meeting this week to nominate Obama, had the biggest monthly gains in enrollment, 1.3 percent.
Participation was up 0.4 percent from May and 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier and has remained greater than 46 million all year as the unemployment rate stayed higher than 8 percent. New jobless numbers will be released Sept. 7.
“We need a new direction,” Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said in an e-mail. “Democrats are desperately trying to convince voters that they are better off than they were four years ago. But the opposite is true,” as evidenced by the food- stamp numbers, she said.
Reductions to the program have also emerged as a point of contention in debate over a farm bill to replace current law that expires Sept. 30. The U.S. Senate in June passed a plan that would lower expenditures by $4 billion over 10 years, while the House Agriculture Committee the following month backed a $16 billion cut.
During the Republican primary campaign, then-candidate Newt Gingrich labeled Obama as “the best food-stamp president in American history.” When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called his statements “inaccurate” and “divisive,” Gingrich dismissed the complaints as a smear from “modern liberals” who are “off the deep end.”
Food-stamp enrollment is rising partly because the USDA is pushing higher participation too aggressively, giving government money to people who may not need or want it, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions said in a telephone interview.
Spending on what’s officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program totaled $6.21 billion in June, 0.4 percent higher than the previous month and 2.8 percent more than a year earlier. The record is $6.26 billion spent in September 2011.