Florida Republicans' Dilemma: Should They Ban Poor People From Buying Cupcakes?

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It's always fun to see different strains of a political ideology rub against each other in conflict, and that's exactly what's happening as a Florida House committee ponders whether or not to limit the kinds of foods that can be bought with food stamps. On one hand you have the part of the Republican party that just loves to put all sorts of restrictions on people who get government assistance (see: Rick Scott's welfare drug testing laws). On the other you have the type that gets nervous anytime the government dictates what kinds of foods people should eat.

Yesterday, the House Health and Human Services Access Subcommittee approved a proposal that would limit the kinds of food people who receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program money can buy on their EBT cards. Things like soda pop, cupcakes, pretzels, potato chips, ice cream and muffins would be banned.

Some Republicans are all for putting restrictions on those who receive welfare.

"This is money being taken from one taxpayer, and out of compassion being given to another," bill sponsor Rep. Scott Plakon told the News-Press. "So I think it's entirely reasonable for the legislature to put restrictions."

Others, though, aren't so sure Big Brother should be watching what anyone eats.

"I don't want people telling me what to eat and I don't think it's right for us as a government -- even if they happen to be poor," says Rep. Dana Young. "Even if they happen to be on food stamps."

Young is clearly the type of Republican who has nightmares about Michelle Obama force-feeding her arugula.

Rep. Mark Pafford, a Democrat tried to add a little bit of wiggle-room into the restrictions. He introduced an amendment that would allows the EBT cards to be used to purchase cake or cupcakes on children's birthdays. That was quickly struck down, and the Republicans naturally continued to ignore the Democrats in the room, as has been customary for the past decade in Tallahassee.

The bill however isn't completely concerned with cupcakes. It would also eliminate the use of EBT cards in Internet cafes that double as quasi-legal e-casinos. It would also ban the use of cards at places that sell liquor and other spirits, but some legislators realize that provision could eliminate many, if not all, grocery stores.

The bill still has a long way to go before reaching the House floor, including two more committee stops. A similar bill is currently moving forward in the Senate.

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