Ramesh Ponnuru offers a critical take on the food stamp program

For a conservative’s perspective on the food stamp program, Need to Know host Jeff Greenfield spoke with Ramesh Ponnuru. He’s a columnist and senior editor of National Review magazine, and a contributor to a wide array of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Greenfield asked Ponnuru: “At the fundamental level, do you have a problem with a federal government program that says, under a set of circumstances, we’re going to help you eat?”

 

Comments

  • Jmcroston

      This person’s lack of knowledge of how the program works and for whom is not only lamentable but makes me SO wish that he might walk in the shoes himself one day….

  • Dave

    Some time ago I was introduced to the concept that many of my fellow citizens have not had the nurturing, social and educational opportunities,and moral/ethical upbringing that I and many many others have had the great fortune to experience. Many Americans have been very blessed. Many other have not. Once I became aware of this fact my world view changed. My desire to assist others took a leap forward. Have we not seen enough greed and avarice the past few years to understand the harsh realities that lead to needless pain and suffering.

  • joe b.

    Ponnuru demonstrates the fundamental problem with slogans in politics.  He’s a reasonably smart guy and when Jeff began to drill down into the specifics, Ponnuru had to admit that the program was necessary, working and that the rolls were rising because of the economic conditions we find ourselves in.  He was trying to make a “work for food” argument but failed in light of the millions on the program who are themselves working poor.  The dirty secret is that thanks to our “free market” more and more people are being paid less and less.  Ponnuru, an opponent of such things as the minimum wage, has no place to hide on this.  We pay people too little to raise families, survive on social security (alone) – in other words – anti-family!  His one honest economic idea – stopping federal subsidies – actually doesn’t even work here.  While it is bad for building local sustainable agriculture it has no real negative impact on the “food basket” in terms of price.  At least food stamps support farmers when done right.  How shallow the conservative case is here was on display.

  • joe b.

    Ponnuru demonstrates the fundamental problem with slogans in politics.  He’s a reasonably smart guy and when Jeff began to drill down into the specifics, Ponnuru had to admit that the program was necessary, working and that the rolls were rising because of the economic conditions we find ourselves in.  He was trying to make a “work for food” argument but failed in light of the millions on the program who are themselves working poor.  The dirty secret is that thanks to our “free market” more and more people are being paid less and less.  Ponnuru, an opponent of such things as the minimum wage, has no place to hide on this.  We pay people too little to raise families, survive on social security (alone) – in other words – anti-family!  His one honest economic idea – stopping federal subsidies – actually doesn’t even work here.  While it is bad for building local sustainable agriculture it has no real negative impact on the “food basket” in terms of price.  At least food stamps support farmers when done right.  How shallow the conservative case is here was on display.

  • joe b.

    Ponnuru demonstrates the fundamental problem with slogans in politics.  He’s a reasonably smart guy and when Jeff began to drill down into the specifics, Ponnuru had to admit that the program was necessary, working and that the rolls were rising because of the economic conditions we find ourselves in.  He was trying to make a “work for food” argument but failed in light of the millions on the program who are themselves working poor.  The dirty secret is that thanks to our “free market” more and more people are being paid less and less.  Ponnuru, an opponent of such things as the minimum wage, has no place to hide on this.  We pay people too little to raise families, survive on social security (alone) – in other words – anti-family!  His one honest economic idea – stopping federal subsidies – actually doesn’t even work here.  While it is bad for building local sustainable agriculture it has no real negative impact on the “food basket” in terms of price.  At least food stamps support farmers when done right.  How shallow the conservative case is here was on display.

  • Ty

    Farm subsidys are NOT the ’cause’ of the increase in numbers of of food stamp receipients.  It is the increasing concentration of wealth by the 1%.  There simply is not enough to go around.  He works for bloomberg, who thinks that increasing stock markets and increasing profits of corporations is a good thing.  His whole outlook is skewed towards companies and individuals who already have everything getting even more. His shot at the ethanol industry shows his bias completely. 
         The ethanol producers credit was hijacked by the republican party in an after midnight session where one word was changed.  The producers credit became the blenders credit.  And who has gasoline to blend alcohol with?  The oil refiners.  Every penny of the VEETC went not to producers but blenders, i.e. OIL.  So blaming farmers and ethanol for an increase in food prices is WRONG.  The corn being made into ethanol is not eaten by people but by livestock.  And they still get to eat it.  It’s now distillers grains that they can more easily digest so it helps livestock.  This talking head is just spouting what his masters are telling him and should not be taken seriously.  Allowing him to spout his half-truths and outright fabrications on PBS is just WRONG!!!

  • Fenceman

    The cost of living has just gotten to high . gas prices, electeic bill. Rent, in the 90s min wage was 3.35 an hr, now its 7.25 in most places. when min. wage goes to 20.00 an hr. will it still be low income.As far as farming goes how much fuel does it take to start to finish one acre of corn, How much corn goes into corn syrupe for candy an cola drinks, An what does ethenol have to due with the price of tomatoes , or veggies in genreal.. The cause of this problem are many things

  • Vic

    Ponnuru – do your research on farm subsidies before speaking. Find out what crops and types of farmers are subsidized and for whom’s benefit.  You do not know the facts. 

    Also, what do you suggest we do?  Shall we stop helping people eat?  Which means – they go hungry.  A person going hungry starves. 

    Shaking my head…

  • jan

    I’m starting to think that all think tanks should be abolished.  They seem to have evolved from an effort to think of new ideas/theories into a sound system for preset ideas.  They appear to live a life that is far from what most of us live.  They don’t appear to have financial worries like us.  The ivory tower may be a nice life for those who live in them, but they’re every bit as much out of touch with reality as the rest of the D.C. crowd.

  • Barker1891

      Is their anyone out there that really believes curtailing the food stamp program would make America a better place. Big guys can beat up little guys, but a little guy with a gun can ruin your whole day. Good luck with survival of the fittest.

  • Biology228

    This man is so out of touch, I hope he watches this program.  Good program Need to Know.

  • Songweasel

    one of the key components of the equation is WAGES.
    no one seems to want to talk about the suppression of wages over the years. wages have been kept artificially low…
    in whose interest? i dunno: credit card companies seem to like it since they get a lot of business from people trying to make up the slack with plastic. businesses seem to like it since they can report higher profits on those wall street conference calls. heck, it’s actually become important for them to have low wages…it’s in their business plan.
    in. whose. interest.

  • W2

    All these poor, wounded snowflakes over modest proposals to food stamp programs! Love it! 

    CBO estimated that fraud within the food stamp program have cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars. 

    So let’s not get ourselves in too much of a tizzy over some suggested modest reforms. 

    Betcho a wheat nickle most of you silly geese didn’t even watch the video all the way through, esp the part where this guy says he’s not opposed to basic assistance to the poor, just abuse of that help.

    Anyways…

    First overemotional response that tells me I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND and/or DON’T CARE ABOUT THE POOR wins!

  • W2

    blah blah blah — “wage suppression!!!!” is the JFK assassination conspiracy for the economically illiterate. 

    The minimum wage has increased steadily for years. No government regulations on wage suppression, whatever the hell that means.

  • W2

    “Is their anyone out there that really believes curtailing the food stamp program would make America a better place.”
    Oh yeah — I totally do. I’m cool with a government safety net, but draw the line when it turns into a hammock. 

    And I don’t like it when people force compassion at knife point — under the social contract, we have a moral obligation to care for the needy. I’m just not down with those who want to pull the money out of someone else’s wallet to pay for their charitable impulses. 

    Scripts Howard broke a huge story yesterday, fraud in the food stamp program. $87 billion a year we spend on this — hundreds of millions of that lost to criminals. How low can you get, btw, stealing from a program that’s supposed to feed the poor?

  • W2

    Hey, force a law that forces widespread abolition of centers of thought and academic analysis. That seems like a pretty reasonable reaction to one dude saying something you don’t like. 

    That’s what babies do. “Waaaaa he has a different opinion than me! Mommy make him stop!!”

  • jan

     I feel sorry for you W2. 

  • W2

    Somehow, someway I shall endeavor to pick up the pieces and press forward — despite the devastating effect your faux sympathy just had on me. Prayers, people, don’t stop until I’m whole again!

  • SteveBreeze

    I hear a lot about how sad it is the poor are dependent on government handouts, and so morally damaged in some way. Truth is you can look at food stamps as a handout to employers who want to pay less then a living wage to employees. Somehow that point of view is never reflected in what passes for the “left” side of these bs arguments.

  • Jimcgoodwin

    I like Jeff Greenfield, but he conducted a horrible interview.  He had his list of questions to get through and regardless of Mr. Ponnuru’s answers he was determined to go to the next question.
    For example: Mr. Ponnuru stated that the States were expanding the number of people eligible for the program as though it were inherently bad.  Mr. Greenfield should FOLLOW UP on the answer and ask whether the expansion was appropriate.  How poor does Mr. Ponnuru think someone has to be in order to receive food stamps?
    You could do the same thing for most of his answers.  They invariably begged the question or avoided a basic issue.
    Please take a cue from JOURNALISTS. Engage in an investigative conversation.  Challenge the assumptions inherent in the answer.  Dig.  Enlighten.  We have too much of the questioner simply affording the person interviewed the opportunity to state his or her position. That’s disappointing from a PBS program that’s suppose to explore issues in depth.

  • jan

     No.  I really do feel sorry for you. 

  • guest

    Amen to that!!!!!Every person who works should recieve a living wage. No one ever seems to acknowledge how important  the people are who work the minimum wage jobs. Without them there would be no one to do the real work. Imaging no grocery clerks, no one to do the dry cleaning, no food servers, no janitors, no bus drivers and the list goes on. Pay these people and they won’t need food stamps!!!!