GOP Rep: Physical Fitness Proof of Food Stamp Fraud

GOP Rep: Physical Fitness Proof of Food Stamp Fraud August 12, 2013

Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma told a townhall meeting the other day, “The food programs are designed to take care of people who can’t work, not won’t work. And we all know those people that won’t work, right? They’re abusing the program, and we’ve got to get them off of it.” His proof of this: He saw a physically fit person using food stamps:

So I’m in Crystal City and I’m buying my groceries…and I noticed everybody was giving that card. They had these huge baskets, and I realized it was the first of the month. But then I’m looking over, and there’s a couple beside me. This guy was built like a brick house. I mean he had muscles all over him. He was in a little tank top and pair of shorts and really nice Nike shoes. And she was standing there, and she was all in shape and she looked like she had just come from a fitness program. She was in the spandex, and you know, they were both physically fit. And they go up in front of me and they pay with that card. Fraud. Absolute 100% all it is is fraud…it’s all over the place. And there you go, to the fact that we shouldn’t be supporting those who won’t work. They’re spending their money someplace.

But of course, if they’d been overweight and out of shape, that would also be proof that they’re just lazy and shiftless and won’t work. When you start from that assumption, all you see is “evidence” for that conclusion.

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  • They needed to look poor and destitute.

  • garnetstar

    Because no one who has a job in the fitness industry ever loses it, or ever finds that it doesn’t pay above poverty level.

    If they had any decency, they’d throw away their entire wardrobes and find some clothes in a dumpster to wear while shopping.

  • IIRC, groups like Christian Children’s Fund have done research to determine how destitute to make the children in their commercials look. They need to look poor enough to inspire help, but not so bad they’re off-putting.

    It looks like Mullin’s narrow mind exemplifies the dimensions of the needle these groups need to thread.

  • And the mentally ill are never physically fit, am I right? So much rage.

  • Randomfactor

    If only they had special stores for those receiving assistance to patronize, so the Representative won’t have to mix with the riff-raff. Perhaps a servant’s entrance at the rear, too.

  • DaveL

    I don’t know if this is still the case, but just a few years ago a lot of junior enlisted military members, especially those supporting families, had to resort to SNAP or WIC, to our national shame. My sister-in-law did back in the early 90s, when her husband was deployed.

  • The food programs are designed to take care of people who can’t work, not won’t work.

    Right, there are only two types of people out there. Those who are physically unable to work, and those that could have all the jobs they wanted but simply choose not to. It’s not like there’s a category of people called “unemployed” or anything, which is defined as people looking for work who can’t get it.

  • I’m so glad to see those backward assholes are still alive and well in Oklahoma.

    What a turdpile of a state.

  • Skip White

    Strewth @4 beat me to it.

    Of course, it’s not all that surprising that a conservative representative wouldn’t even consider that the person might be on SSI due to a mental disability, because we all know all mental disabilities are cured by pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps. [/snark]

  • maddog1129

    Some of the people receiving food stamp assistance are employed but underpaid. A lot of the assistance is for children … why should that depend on what their caregivers look like?

  • matty1

    Maybe Rep Mullin should swap his current salary and expenses for those oh so generous handouts. After of course he gets tested to make sure he isn’t going to spend it all on drugs.

  • A lot of the jobs that people take when they can’t get anything else are physically demanding. Hell, even working as a sales associate at Macy’s, I lost 40 pounds in about 2 months. You get fit when your job demands you move a lot, which is the case for many, many lower income people.

  • Chiroptera

    You know, I even ask myself, even if some people are getting food stamps or welfare or whatever even if they had jobs or could easily find a job, who cares? I really can’t get worked up over people — any people — getting food for free.

  • John Pieret

    Gee, and here I thought the food programs were intended to allow low income people to buy sufficient food to remain healthy. I didn’t know they were only supposed to get enough to make them looks like concentration camp inmates. Silly me!

  • D. C. Sessions

    And I’ll bet that this even happens at Wal-Mart — where the cashier, when she buys groceries after punching out for the day, pays for them at least in part with SNAP. Because full-time pay at Wal-Mart is low enough that the employees qualify for SNAP.

    Another way of looking at this is that SNAP and EITC are corporate welfare — they allow the employers to pay even lower wages.

  • DC Sessions @15- Hmm. Convince the Republicans it’s corporate rather than personal welfare, and they’d be the biggest fans of SNAP in the history of ever.

  • vicvanity

    of course they never mention the large percentage of people who are Underemployed . or the foster parents who get food stamps to help pay for the kids they are caring for . then they complain about the food those on welfare purchase .. OMG someone on welfare bought a bag of chips or soda.

  • D. C. Sessions

    gworroll, EITC was originally a Republican idea and until very recently they loved it dearly. But that was when the big corporations like Wal-Mart actually called the shots behind the scenes. Now the Sarah Palin Republicans have the bit in their teeth, and are all in favor of self-inflicted wounds as long as they hurt those people.

  • And their calves were like cantaloupes.

    D.C. Sessions:

    The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of who will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.” (via balloonjuice)

  • smhll

    AFAIK, able-bodied people with low incomes are eligible for food stamps. And they usually don’t check the shoes. (He was too busy to follow them to the parking lot and comment on what kind of car they drove?)

  • markr1957

    Rep. Mullin is aware that many servicemen and women are on food stamps because service pay is so low, isn’t he? Does he honestly believe we should only hire unfit soldiers, or does he believe that once service personnel meet fitness requirements their children should be starved?

  • timberwoof

    It struck me immediately that this congresscritter expects people on food stamps to starve.

    I thought more about the story he told; I suspect he embellished it and that he did not actually see it happen the way he described. I think he’s lying.

  • Ellie

    Am I the only one who thinks it a bit odd — creepy, even — that this guy is so close to the other customers in line that he knows what cards they are using? I go to the grocery store every week, and 99% of the time, could not tell you what kind of card/cards the people in front of me were using. If someone got that close to me, while I was swiping my card (whatever kind of card it might be), I’d feel very uncomfortable. Something smells here, and I don’t think it’s the Limburger in the shopping cart.

  • eamick

    Rep. Mullin is aware that many servicemen and women are on food stamps because service pay is so low, isn’t he?

    Given that this Crystal City is undoubtedly the one he’s talking about, you may not be far off the mark.

  • skinnercitycyclist

    He seems to be implying that if you are physically fit. I am currently pretty physically fit, which I accomplish by riding a bicycle everywhere (20 years car-free, woo-hoo!) and lifting weights on a barbell set I bought about 18 years ago for $200. It does not cost that much, just some inexpensive workout and not eating every chili-cheese dog in sight.

    He seems to have a shoe fetish as well, and when he mentioned the “really nice Nike shoes,” it really struck a chord. Up till last year, I was a public school teacher in a CBT program that served youth with a felony record in a residential treatment setting. I used to (gently) tease the kids concerning how carefully they tended these shoes. For some of these kids, this was the only “status” item they possessed, and, though in some cases the shoes were a few years old, they looked immaculate. They would return my joke, but it was clear how much they prized the shoes because they had little else. Markwayne (really?) needs to, eh, I was going to say something sage and mature but I will settle for he needs to eat shit and die.

  • exdrone

    It sounds to me like the couple Mullin was admiring turned down his offer to have a threesome.

  • exdrone

    Ellie @23 – exactly. It sounds a lot like how urban myths get started. “This might happen” becomes “I’ll bet this is happening” becomes “I’ve heard this is happening” becomes “I actually saw this happen”. It’s a defence against the cognitive dissonance of being acused, “You can’t possibly believe that, can you?”

  • meg

    I’m reminded of a guy I went to uni with. Buff as anything, strong as an ox, all the stereotypes.

    Someone once commented that they never saw him buy food on campus, alway brought sandwiches. He explained that he really couldn’t afford to buy lunch – he was just making his casual job stretch to pay for books and fees etc as his folks weren’t in a position to help him pay. When asked about his gym membership he laughed.

    “Don’t need one. I run. The spare parts and tools Dad has lying around make good weights. Just gotta know how to use them.”

  • Something smells here, and I don’t think it’s the Limburger in the shopping cart.

    I think there’s a very high probability that this story isn’t real, it’s just for illustrative purposes based on what he’s been told or thinks he knows about people on food stamps. To the wingnut mind, the narrative drives reality, not the other way around.

    See also: Reagan’s Cadillac-driving welfare queen.

  • Michael Heath

    I’m with Ellie and Area Man, I smell a lie.

    I grew up working for my dad in two of his grocery stores. My observation, which wasn’t one imagined couple but instead hundreds if not thousands of people every month who used food stamps, is that the people who received food stamps needed food stamps to feed themselves and their families. This was back prior to the cards where we received bills similar or equal to the dimensions of U.S. currency.

    I do recall one customer, out of many thousands I served over the years, who once bought groceries with food stamps where she drove an expensive car and was a spiffy dresser. Of course that doesn’t mean she was scamming us taxpayers, it only points out that I observed only one potential person out of many thousands who might not have qualified for food stamps. And I was paying attention because this was the early-1980s when some GOP conservatives were demagoguing the issue; where their claims were the opposite of what I encountered.

  • rogue74656

    In the state of Oklahoma, a teacher with 3 or more children will qualify for food stamps unless his/her spouse works a better paying job.

    That’s OK though, we are used to our elected officials saying stupid things….

  • Dear Markwayne Mullin (wtf kind of name is “Markwayne”, btw?):

    I am reasonably fit for an old fucker. I get a whopping $16 a month in EBT/Food stamps. I’m kinda beat up and tired a fair amount of the time. I’m pretty sure that I could kick your douchebag ass for at least the first 30 seconds. Oh, btw, you’re not a veteran, either. Why the fuck is that? You don’t have any balls? I know you gotta be pro-war, cuz you’re from a “conservative” (read “troglodytic reactionary”) state. So, why is it that you haven’t seen a tour overseas?

    What a piece of shit.

  • As far as the shoes go I guess Mullin never bothered to consider that they might be a gift from a relative who actually has money to buy shoes that don’t come from the 10 buck rack at Value Village.

  • Jessica Clark

    like Lawrence answered I can’t believe that a stay at home mom able to get paid $8399 in four weeks on the computer. have you read this website…www.max34.Com

  • Turns that Markwhiner is no stranger to a handout of sorts. He got his daddy’s bidneth the old fashioned way, dad got too sick to run it.

    His bio says he turned it around and now owns several other companies. It would sure be nice to know how many of 100+ employees receive any sort of public assistance.

  • My last pair of Nikes were purchased at Academy in the bargain aisle. They look great. I have even received compliments.

    I worked at a grocery store in a small town in Oklahoma in high school. The people I knew who used food stamps and drove nicer cars fixed the cars up themselves and took better care of them because they didn’t take them for granted.

  • jaybee

    Textbook confirmation bias. He sees one fit couple using assistance and his conclusion:

    Fraud. Absolute 100% all it is is fraud…it’s all over the place.