Some Twitter perspectives
Citizen tips abound on Twitter for a go-after-government food stamp story, though these are not always informed. One theme that emerged is that the government is not transparent about food stamps, although in truth there are a lot of statistics available. One tweeter advised that “food stamp recipients have increased 76 % under Obama. If they really stimulated the economy, don’t you think we’d be in hyper drive now?” A tweet leading back to SunSentinel.com in South Florida said there would be no more food stamp “parties,” a reference to an outreach activity that the USDA has used to help the elderly apply for stamps, but has now stopped. Such “parties” aside, many elderly Americans who are poor enough to qualify for food stamps don’t get them, for a variety of reasons. In New York City alone, 50 percent of seniors age 60 and older who are eligible don’t get the benefit, says Bobbie Sackman, a public policy specialist at the Council for Senior Centers and Services, an advocacy group.

Stats like these help to connect the dots in the budget-cutting discussion. Better yet, the voices of people who use food stamps—or farm subsidies, for that matter—would help fill in the big picture.

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.