House Democratic Leader Scott Inman on Tuesday rebuked Oklahoma Republican Party officials who insulted Oklahomans who receive assistance with food security, comparing them to animals.
“Certainly we should do all we can to reduce the number of our citizens – children, seniors, working mothers and others – who receive food stamps,” the Del City Democrat stated Monday night. “But to compare them to animals is insulting, degrading, and not at all in the spirit of Christ. I hope that my friends and colleagues in the OK GOP will denounce posts like this one and instead focus on solutions to the challenges facing our poor and needy.”
Because of low wages, many Oklahoma teachers, correctional officers and single mothers, as well as thousands of children and senior citizens, qualify for food stamps, Inman noted.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs an average of $131.50 to $298 per week to feed a family of four, indicating that even the assistance these families receive may not be enough to lift the fears of not having the bare minimum.
Oklahomans receiving assistance average $118 for individuals, $257 for families, per month. In April of this year, 591,425 Oklahomans in 268,588 households received food stamps, a decrease of 1.2% from April of last year.
In Oklahoma, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides a maximum benefit of $649 a month for a four-member household whose monthly net income does not exceed $1,988, or $23,856 per year. The minimum monthly gross pay for Oklahoma’s correctional security officers, according to the salary schedule approved on July 1 of this year, is $1,674.17, or $20,090 per year.
Research shows that every dollar spent on the food stamp program generates $1.73 in economic activity. The Congressional Budget Office has deemed the food stamp program to be one of the two most beneficial programs for growing the economy in times of economic downturn and job loss.
“What the Republican Party said about low-income Oklahomans was outrageous,” Inman asserted. “Gov. Mary Fallin, House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman should be just as offended as House Democrats are about the GOP’s crass comments about people who would not be able to feed themselves and their families without this program. We call on them to join us in condemning the unfounded, offensive comments posted by their party leadership on the Oklahoma Republican Party’s official Facebook page.”
This latest debacle comes on the heels of the Oklahoma Republican Party’s hiring of an accused spousal abuser who was defended vigorously by the current party chairman. Collectively it appears that when it comes to understanding the struggles of Oklahoma’s poor, needy and abused, “The GOP is either tone deaf or intentionally offensive,” Inman concluded.