Missouri State Representative Rick Brattin, who’s presumably run out of every other better thing to do, is sponsoring legislation that would prevent people receiving food stamps from buying “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood or steak.” He’s already admitted the bill might need “tweaking” to permit people to buy “canned tuna and fish sticks.”

The Washington Post reports that Brattin introduced HB 183 to get the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) back to it’s “original intention,” as Brattin put it, namely making sure that poor people don’t have too much fun or eat too well: “The intention of the bill is to get the food stamp program back to it’s original intent, which is nutrition assistance.” (Coffee, the bill says, will be exempt from the “no energy drink” rule.)

These kinds of bills — premised on the idea that food stamp recipients are lazy thieves — are a favorite of Republican lawmakers: take Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, who’s so suspicious of food stamp users that he recommends his constituents snoop on their shopping carts to make sure nothing looks too sinful. And Brattin, while young, has already proven himself to be a stupendously effective troll: he was last seen sponsoring a bill that would have allowed men to have to grant women permission to get an abortion. (That one failed immediately.)

Brattin’s food stamp bill is especially dopey, though, even by his high standards, because meat and seafood can both be part of a nutritious diet — i.e., the entire purpose of SNAP. But like Grothman, who has insisted that food stamps are routinely used for “steak and lobsters,” Brattin says that the bill is necessary because he has personal knowledge that everyone getting food stamps buys crab legs and filet mignon, which they presumably season with his tears. From the Post:

Brattin admits that the language might need some tweaking. “My intention wasn’t to get rid of canned tuna and fish sticks,” he said. But he also insists that people are abusing the system by purchasing luxury foods, and believes that that must be stopped, even if it ends up requiring the inclusion of other less luxurious items.

“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 taxpayer’s dime to afford those kinds of foods either.”


It’s truly amazing that these eagle-eyed politicians manage to spot food stamp abuse every time they go to the grocery store, especially considering that SNAP fraud is thought to be extremely rare.

Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.

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