"This is not a situation where we're back in the '80s where there was this push for welfare reform because people were perceived to be gaming the system," said Vilsack. "That's not the case here." [...]It's not just that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program error rates are minuscule. It's that people get how bad the economy remains not just for millions of unemployed Americans but for underemployed workers and minimum-wage workers who live in poverty even if they work full-time. And Republican efforts to the contrary, it's really hard to make a "welfare queens driving Cadillacs" argument against people getting an average of less than $5 a day that can only be spent on food. Republican efforts also to the contrary, polling does suggest that a majority of Americans don't want people starving in this country.
"I think the reason why they haven't been particularly successful with this argument is that maybe the American people recognize these food assistance programs are helping people who are struggling through no fault of theirs," Vilsack said, "or who have worked their entire lives but are now living on a very small and meager Social Security check, or dealing with a disability that makes it very difficult if not impossible for them to work. I think Americans have understanding and compassion for these people."
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is not quite saying to Republicans "good luck demonizing food stamp recipients," but he's getting there: