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Republican lawmaker Rick Brattin thinks poor people shouldn’t eat steak or seafood


A Republican lawmaker in Missouri thinks poor people abuse food stamps and wants to ban them from buying what he deems are “luxury items.”

State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced legislation that would prohibit the purchase of “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak” with food stamps.

“The intention of the bill is to get the food stamp program back to its original intent, which is nutrition assistance,” Brattin says.

While cookies, chips, energy drinks, and soft drinks would indeed align with the food stamp program’s mission to provide nutrition as nutrition experts have discussed limiting the purchase of such items for participants, most people believe banning seafood and steak is taking the measure a step too far.

“It just seems really repressive,” says Mark Rank, author of the book Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America and professor at Washington University. “I don’t see how it makes any sense to ban some of these foods. Fish is something that should really be in your diet. And steak, what does that mean in this context?”

Brattin says he does realize his bill could use some fine-tuning of the language.

“My intention wasn’t to get rid of canned tuna and fish sticks, but I have seen people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards,” he said. “When I can’t afford it on my pay, I don’t want people on the taxpayers’ dime to afford those kinds of foods either.”

Rank maintains that Brattin’s position is a reminder of a long history of conservative Republicans’ stigmatization of welfare recipients like former President Reagan’s infamous “welfare queen” story. Though the system is far from perfect, Rank says it’s hardly the free for all it’s made out to be by some.

“There are some isolated cases of abuse, sure,” Rank says. “But they are hardly representative of what the people struggling to get by on SNAP are actually buying. These people are spending their money extremely frugally. More than anything else, I think this is about controlling people. We should be treating people who are in poverty the same way we treat everyone else.”


  1. Nigg.Newton on April 6, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Can you say, JEALOUSY — this HONKEEY is upset Blacks eating better than him, and on his DIME.

    LOL…only in America!

  2. 5aiah on April 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Ok cmon, I dislike conservatives as much as the next guy, but really? Luxury food items should be banned so that families on food stamps can be directed towards healthier food and lifestyles. The main complaint of poor people is that they can’t afford to be vegans or vegetarians, but if you’re buying filet mignon and crab legs than that’s a lie.

  3. Lady R on April 6, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I was raised up on a farm that my grandparents had, we were poor but we still ate steak and shrimp because that’s what they grew up on also. My grandad had cows etc even a pond where we fished. Poor people should be able to eat what they want no matter who’s assisting them. Luxury items gtho, only reason being is that the price has gone up on beef and seafood. Regular food has become just as high.

  4. REALSOUL4 on April 6, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    He look and sound just what he look like a damn “FOOL”!

  5. danielle on April 7, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I like this. I was on food stamps temporarily while I finished my degrees. When I would purchase foods with my EBT benefits, I would ask myself, “would I spend my own hard earned money on this?” Or, “if I buy this, will I be able to have enough money left for the rest of the month?” If the answer was no, then I wouldn’t use my EBT benefits to pay for it. Sadly not everyone feels this way, and bad apples might end up spoiling the bunch here.

  6. Claudia Hatfield on April 7, 2015 at 11:32 am

    This is the most disgusting thing for him to call welfare clients who get SNAP leeches. Who are the leeches? The representatives like him who sell out to lobbyists and take away from programs for the poor and middle class. If his kind isn’t after welfare programs they are after Veterans benefits, Medicare and Social Security. They want us poor, uneducated, and bowed down before them so we can provide cheap labor for big corporations. As a social worker all my life, now retired, I am so tired of the welfare lies by the far right. Believe me it is lies. I had clients that could not even buy coffee. There may be a few bad clients that try to abuse the system but nothing like the representatives in D.C. that abuse the system ALL the time. You wonder where our tax money is going? Look to the wars not needed, rich corps with hidden tax shelters overseas, and our own representatives that sell us out. How stupid are people to believe this crap about poor people and to overlook the biggest criminals who are running our government?