44.7 Million Americans Now on Food Stamps -- More than at Any Time Under Bush

February 3, 2012 - 8:15 PM
Food Stamps

(AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A Democratic congresswoman claimed Thursday that Newt Gingrich was wrong about President Obama being the “Food Stamp President” and that food stamp use increased more under President Bush than President Obama.

But that claim seems to fly in the face of statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which show that there are 44.7 million Americans on food stamps – and there are more people are on food stamps now than at any time during the Bush administration.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said Thursday at a Capitol Hill news conference that “(t)here has recently been a concerted push by Republican leaders and presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich to ridicule food stamps as the ‘new welfare.’”

“(He) continually refers to the president as ‘the greatest food stamp president in history, and he argued in South Carolina that this is a factually accurate statement. It is not. More Americans used food stamps under President Bush. In fact, Speaker Gingrich is wrong on the history, purpose, and the role of food stamps in America,” she said.

But USDA statistics show that participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increased 93.38 percent from George Bush’s first year in 2001 compared to President Obama’s first year in 2009.

When President Bush took office in 2001, there were 17.3 million people on food stamps. During his last full year in office, 2008, there were 28.2 million on food stamps -- an increase of 10.9 million – or a 63 percent increase over an 8-year period.

But from the last full year of Bush’s presidency (2008) through 2011, just three years into President Obama’s presidency, the number of people on food stamps increased 16.5 million -- going from 28.2 million to 44.7 million -- an increase of 59 percent in just a 3-year period.

If you compare the average increase per year of the number of people on food stamps during the Bush administration (1.5 million) versus the average increase per year during the Obama administration (5.5 million) – food stamps have increased nearly 4 times more per year under Obama than under Bush.

In addition, if you compare statistics from 2003 (three years into President Bush’s first term) with numbers from 2011 (three years into President Obama’s presidency) the number of people on food stamps jumped 111 percent -- from 21.2 million to 44.7 million.

The food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program doled out $50.36 billion in benefits in 2009; $64.7 billion in 2010; and $71.81 billion in 2011.

The most the benefits doled out in any given year under Bush’s presidency was $34.6 billion in 2008. The lowest amount was $15.5 billion in 2001.