Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Sonny Perdue defends Trump plan to shift from food stamps to ‘CARE’ packages for poor


If the Trump administration gets its way, former Georgia governor and current Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue could oversee the transformation of the nation’s food stamp program -- away from redeemable coupons to a system in which boxes of American-grown food are shipped directly to poor families.

The change, contained in the Trump budget pitch released Monday, would be the biggest shake-up in the food program’s 50 year history.

The proposal has been dubbed “America’s Harvest Box.” Mick Mulvaney, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, has described it as “a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash.”

But “Blue Apron” may be a high-end exaggeration. Descriptions of what would be in the boxes may remind older Americans more of the CARE packages sent to western Europe after World War II. From Fortune magazine:

Shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, canned fruit and vegetables are among the items that would be included in the box.

From The Hill newspaper:

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the "bold, innovative approach" to feeding the nation's hungry.

“It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers,” Perdue said.

Bloomberg reported that shares of Dollar Tree Inc. and Dollar General Corp. dropped Monday after the plan was unveiled.

***

The Southern Co. on Wednesday proposed naming Ernest Moniz, the former U.S. secretary of energy in the Obama administration, to its board of directors.

Moniz last year endorsed the continued construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, a troubled Georgia Power project that’s over budget and behind schedule.

But there’s another Georgia connection: Moniz is currently is the chief executive officer and co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the non-proliferation organization founded by former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and cable mogul Ted Turner.

Moniz’ appointment to the governing board of Southern Co. would have to be ratified by stockholders this spring.

***

A link may be developing between the two biggest Washington proposals that involve Savannah. 

We’ve told you that Gov. Nathan Deal is the only coastal governor who hasn’t embraced or opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to open offshore areas to oil and gas drilling. 

Yes, the governor has raised concerns about the idea, but he still hasn’t staked out a hard position for or against the move.

At the same time, the governor is leaning on Georgia’s allies in Washington to pony up more funding for the deepening of the Savannah harbor. The Trump administration’s budget blueprint was a disappointment: It called on Congress to appropriate about half the $100 million state officials targeted.

Deal and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the public face of the offshore drilling plan, had a phone conversation on Jan. 31. The governor’s office wouldn’t say what was discussed.

But people close to Deal said his neutrality on offshore drilling was a tactical decision. Since it’s not economical to drill off Georgia’s shore anyways, they say, it wasn’t worth risking more port funding by poking a finger in Trump’s eye.

***

More on off-shore drilling: According to the Brunswick News, U.S. Sen. David Perdue on Monday told a group of GOP women that drilling off the Georgia coast is unlikely, given the opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel exploration.

***

As we said, members of Georgia’s congressional delegation are livid at the Trump administration for shortchanging the state’s top economic development project, the dredging of the Port of Savannah, in Monday’s budget proposal. 

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, and Rep. Buddy Carter, who represents the Georgia coast in the House, quickly invited President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to Savannah for a tour of the harbor “to better understand its value to American business.” 

“An infrastructure project with a return on investment like the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project should be an absolute priority for the federal government,” Isakson said in a written statement. “We invite President Trump and Vice President Pence to the Port of Savannah to see firsthand the value this opportunity offers American businesses.”

***

The Democratic primary for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. Jody Hice has taken a sharp turn.

The race between Chalis Montgomery, a music teacher with a children’s ministry, and Richard Dien Winfield, a UGA philosophy professor, was already shaping up to be a test of how far the party is willing to move to the left to defeat a Republican in a conservative northeast Georgia district.

But the rhetoric between their backers turned threatening to some ears over the weekend, when Irami Osei-Frimpong, a UGA doctoral student of philosophy and a Winfield supporter, posted on Facebook that unless she embraces a federal jobs guarantee or other more liberal positions, he would “kill their candidate, if Montgomery makes it past the primary.”

Montgomery’s campaign called on Winfield to denounce the “violent rhetoric.” Winfield did so, condemning “inflammatory speech” in a statement to Flagpole. He also asked Osei-Frimpong to change the post, which his supporter did, explaining:

“I have a lot of white liberals in my life who think that it’s obvious that the first priority is to get rid of Republicans, rather than stump for policies that will lead to substantive economic justice for black Americans.

“They are going to get their feelings hurt when I organize to ensure their Democrat loses.* [This is where he had used the word “kill”] I’m not particularly eager to turn red states into San Francisco: Held by Democrats, anti-black to an almost genocidal core.”

Montgomery responded by comparing the rhetoric coming out of the Winfield to that emanating from Donald Trump’s White House.


Reader Comments ...