Oklahoma Republican Party Facebook post statements about welfare and food stamps created quite a stir on the internet yesterday. The Oklahoma GOP post was responding to a gleeful comment by the USDA referencing the fact that the federal agency had served its “greatest amount of free meals” in the history of the program.
The Oklahoma Republican Party welfare and food stamps Facebook post was published on Monday, but did not go viral until Tuesday. Leaders of the political party chapter have since stated that the post was meant to relay thoughts about government fulfilling the cradle to the grave needs of citizens and did not intend to compare poor people to animals.
An excerpt from the Oklahoma Republican Party Facebook post follows.
“The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because ‘The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.’ Thus ends today’s lesson in irony #OKGOP.”
Oklahoma welfare recipients receive $118 for individuals and $257 for families each month, according to a KFOR Oklahoma News Channel 4 report. Oklahomans receiving money and food stamps via the government programs decreased by 1.2 percent since April of 2014. A total of 268,588 households in the state now receive taxpayer-funded handouts.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides $649 a month for a four-member household in Oklahoma, if the monthly net income does not exceed $1,988, or $23,856 per year.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services was not pleased with the Republican Party Facebook post.
“Shame on you for comparing people in poverty with disabilities to animals! That was an appalling and uninformed comment. Obviously you did not bother to know the majority of the 604,000 people receiving food benefits in Oklahoma are people who are aging, people with disabilities (including disabled veterans) and the working poor who are raising children. The people who need this meager benefit are dependent upon it in order to keep themselves and their children from starving. Is that the kind of dependency you are suggesting we discourage?”
Nearly 2,000 comments to the OK Republican Party post were shared on Facebook. While many were aghast that the state GOP party made a comparison between the “don’t feed the animals” signs at national parks and food stamps and welfare “entitlement” programs, others supported the statement.
“Bravo!! Great truth!! Some need help in some cases but to continue to LIVE EXPECTING handouts is not right!!” Pat said.
“Certainly we should do all we can to reduce the number of our citizens – children, seniors, working mothers and others – who receive food stamps,” Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Scott Inman said. “But to compare them to animals is insulting.”
The only part of the Oklahoma Republican Party Facebook comment which angered those who expressed support for the sentiments, was the decision to cave into those who misunderstood the comparison being made and delete the post.
Last night, there was a post on our OKGOP Facebook page, and it was misinterpreted by many. I offer my apologies… http://t.co/XbVbecOLB3
— OK Republican Party (@officialOKGOP) July 14, 2015
Even thought the post is now gone, memes related to the GOP comments are still being created and shared online.
The Oklahoma Republican issued an apology to those who misconstrued the people living in poverty and animals comparison made on Facebook.
“Last night, there was a post on our OKGOP Facebook page, and it was misinterpreted by many. I offer my apologies for those who were offended – that was not my intention. This post was supposed to be an analogy that compared two situations illustrating the cycle of government dependency in America, not humans as animals. However I do think that it’s important to have conversations about government welfare programs since our dependency on government is at its highest level ever. Quoting President Reagan, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added. As read in our Oklahoma Republican Statement of Principles, we believe that ‘free market principles are the best to stimulate our economic development rather than government subsidies or programs.”
What do you think about the Oklahoma Republican Party Facebook post?
[Images via Twitter]