Food Stamps, Gwyneth Paltrow and the Right Wing

To understand how politics arrived where it is today, you have to understand the goal of modern conservatism.  The goal is simply to minimize payments those with money have to make to government.

I was going to say that the goal is to privatize as much of the economy as possible, but even that isn’t true as we know nationally with the right’s fetish for military spending (which last I checked was a part of government) and support for the most regressive of taxes such as Measure Z locally and what they call the fair tax or the equally regressive flat tax nationally.

With that as a frame, let’s do a fact check on the coverage Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy site gave to Gwyneth Paltrow’s tweet on food stamps (now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program nationally and Cal Fresh here in Cal Ifornia).

First a little background.  Gwyneth tweeted this …

Resulting in this Twitchy commentary infused with conservative tweets…

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, wealthy Obama-adoring member of the holier-than-thou Hollywood Left, is apparently doing a conscious uncoupling from her normal grocery budget, or something: Somebody please alert Ms. Paltrow:  “… SNAP = SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program . Supplemental means IN ADDITION TO.”

It wasn’t until a couple of hours later when conservative twitterdom finally discovered a perceived weakness they exploited to make hay using numbers.  What Gwyneth tweeted was this …

“This is what $29 gets you at the grocery store—what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week. “

… failing to mention that the $29 was per person per family. Malkin’s Twitchy verse finally caught on to this and had some fun with it asking “Gwyneth Paltrow’s SNAP challenge is certainly well publicized, but is it accurate?”. 

Actress and “grandstanding limousine liberal” Gwyneth Paltrow’s promise to live on a food stamp budget for a week managed to secure her quite a bit of news coverage Saturday. Media outlets ranging from the New York Daily News to the Daily Mail to the Huffington Post to the Tech Times detailed her challenge to live on a food budget of $29 a week. As usual with such challenges, the fact that the “S” stands for “supplemental” was lost entirely, with many families receiving WIC benefits. Even so, is Paltrow’s budget of $29 — “what families on SNAP (i.e. food stamps) have to live on for a week” — correct? When Senator (then-Mayor) Cory Booker took the SNAP challenge as a single man, he was given a weekly budget of $35. FreedomWorks’ Kristina Ribali, on the other hand, estimated that a family of four would receive an average of $126 for food expenses.

After much back-and forth including a tweet with this an exceptional table (see “Numbers” below) which includes both the maximum benefits for each family size AND the average benefits distributed for each family.

All the information was there for Twitchy editors, but instead of clarifying some imprecise language of Gwyneth’s they decided, all but certainly knowingly, to exploit the imprecise language to go off on three of their favorite subjects a) celebrity bashing, b) they are victims of an unfairly biased media (” managed to secure her quite a bit of news coverage Saturday”) and finally c) re-affirming, dishonestly, the righteousness of their cause to minimize our collective efforts through the government to help those in need.  And let’s be absolutely clear, government, in all it’s forms from local to national is the the only institution that can reach those that need help.

Numbers and Accuracy:  S.N.A.P. (With Bonus Commentary)

Here is the table tweeted in the second Twitchy tread mentioned above. Table One:  SNAP Benefits by Household Size Maximum and Average SNAP Benefits

Is “Supplemental” as in “Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs” Accurate?  The average estimates very close the to maximum benefits indicated that more often than not, the budgets of those receiving nutritional assistance are extremely low.  Conservatives are making sure that both the amount of benefits distributed and when they are distributed (income earned by individuals and families) are as parsimonious as politically possible.  You know, boot straps and all.

Finally, let’s answer Twitchy’s rhetorical question which for some reason Twitchy did not have time to answer with all of their grandstanding (from “limousine conservatives”?)

“Gwyneth Paltrow’s SNAP challenge is certainly well publicized, but is it accurate?”

Answer:  Yes.  Table Two below normalizes the monthly SNAP benefits per person and then per meal.  The only SNAP HH (Household) over Paltrow’s $29 is the HH of one.  All other average benefits are below this.  More than likely the $29 figure is a result of the average per person per HH number as I’m guessing the individual HH size (1) makes up a larger percentage of the total number of SNAP HH’s thereby skewing the number ($29) towards $32.

Table Two:  SNAP Benefits Per Person 

Table Two:  SNAP Benefits Per Person Bottom line.  More often than not, the right wing, when fact-checked, has it’s pants on fire.  It has to be that way because they are attempting the impossible.  Republicanism was meant to protect a minority from the whims of the majority.  This is an important function.  Sadly, the modern Republican party’s main goal has been to protect the minority which least needs it’s protection, in fact, as many Democrats argue, the majority, the 99% now need protection from the wealth minority.  This is one of a hundred examples every hour of everyday imposed on Americans.

It’s how they do it.  It’s how they continue to leverage elections to have Americans vote against their future.


Although an employee of Humboldt’s Department of Health and Human Services, the opinions stated above are my own and in no way represent those of the DHHS or it’s management.


6 thoughts on “Food Stamps, Gwyneth Paltrow and the Right Wing

  1. american says:

    SO what was the lie? That she said it 29 per family member but it was actually 26? But it was the liberal who said it was 29 so did the liberal lie because she meant 26. This is what happens when you liberals support the surfer dude in cali buying lobster for him and his buddies after a long day of surfing instead of working so he can be in a band. There is plenty to go around in this country for people truely in need but you liberals buy votes buy giving people food stamps. If there were more oversight by the liberals as they give away hard earned money to lay people an i dont mean the 40% who truely need help im talking about the 60% protected by liberals to be lazy as i work my ass off to get by so you libs can use my tax money to give lazy asses smart phones

    1. Exactly, what is the lie that Gwynth made? There wasn’t one, but it set up two threads of basis entertain-o mation on Malkin’s site.

      29 is a fine figure for a number which will vary but will never go over much more than that.

      Set you up for another imaginary exception to the rule too I see.

  2. gotta eat, but what? says:

    Good morning!
    Spelling note: headline: should be Gwyneth.

    Opposition to SNAP is tragic. Can you do a post about the Farm Bill amendments that nearly went through a year ago?

    There is a non-financial element to “non-liberalism.” The issue-based organizing tool of “this is an outrage, if you’re not mad you’re not paying attention” burned people out. Individual liberals have not always done the cause right, showering contempt on Walmart-shopping, non-donating people in their personal lives. The new spotted owl endangered listing will mean local jobs lost and I’m not sure how much sympathy one would have to include in the discussion to help those losing their jobs feek good about it. And the predictable flood of contempt (when it comes) from middle class liberal individuals toward lower-middle income blue collar workers in those industries will not win any new liberal allies. You know what I mean. Workers will be conflated with “repugnicans” and crapped on for supporting their industry. I’m sorry I can’t edit the end of this post. My phone screen is too small. organizing tool “this is an outrage, if you’re

  3. Thank you for keeping up with what is going on at “Twitchy” and places like that so I don’t have to!! And good points on the subject at hand. (Funny how the twitchy people must be upset about all that coverage the media gives celebrities making a point!)

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