O’Reilly’s war on the poor

FOX pundit and faux “historian” Bill O’Reilly (“Killing Kennedy”) might want to call his next book “Killing the Truth.” O’Reilly’s syndicated column in the Nov. 8 News and Sentinel is part of his ongoing attempt to get reactionary readers worked up about the “injustice” of poor folks receiving assistance from programs like SNAP, WIC, HEAP, CHIP, HUD and Medicaid. Similar diatribes have been issued by Cal Thomas, Thomas Sowell and Jonah Goldberg whose columns also appear regularly in The News and Sentinel.

O’Reilly sheds crocodile tears about unemployed persons standing in bread lines during the Great Depression, but neglects to mention, if not for programs like SNAP, today’s poor would be in the same fix. O’Reilly then attacks the current administration, which he claims has “openly encouraged Americans to use the welfare system.” The millionaire-mouthpiece forgot the increased reliance upon public assistance in recent years was a result, not of the 2008 election, but of the September 2008 financial meltdown wherein outfits like Goldman-Sachs and Lehman Brothers blew the lid off the economy and put millions out of work – but still managed to maintain their own eight-figure salaries and bonuses. O’Reilly says ,”Layabouts and people who game the system actually harm the country.” Oh really! Here are the facts.

GAO figures show the SNAP program has a 96.19 percent accuracy record and incidents of “welfare fraud” constitute only 1.7 percent of all cases. Only 67 percent of eligible citizens participate in these programs (many are too proud to ask for assistance); 49 percent of recipients are children; 16 percent are disabled persons, including vets; 42 percent are white; 33 percent are African-American; 19 percent are Hispanics; 40 percent of adult recipients are minimum-wage or part-time workers whose earnings fall below the federal poverty level of $23,000. per year.

Average SNAP benefits are $133.79 a month. That averages about $4.35 a day. In 2011, 16,288 persons received SNAP benefits in Wood County, (23 percent of residents earn below FPL wages). About 7,929 receive similar benefits in Washington County, (there 19 percent live below the FPL). That’s about one out of every five residents!

This Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart in Canton asked its “associates” to donate food to less-fortunate “associates,” but still refuses to pay employees a living wage. In 2012, Wal-Mart made record profits of $120 billion.

As O’Reilly begins to tout his annual phony “War on Christmas” message, he and his greedy supporters are waging a very real war on the poor. “Killing Jesus” indeed!

Fred O’Neill

Marietta