Political Insider

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

Sonny Perdue hints that those with jobs should be barred from food stamp program

Sonny Perdue is hinting that big changes could be in store for the federal food stamps, which fall under his purview as U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Speaking at the WSJ Global Food Forum on Tuesday, Mr. Perdue said that relying on food stamps has become a “lifestyle” for some able-bodied adults.

“We want the people who need the help to get it,” said Mr. Perdue, adding that the benefit shouldn’t be “the whole enchilada” of a family’s food security.

He suggested that enrollment in the program would fall if individuals who are able to work are restricted from using it.

Georgia is already cracking down by insisting that the able-bodied get jobs in order to continue receiving food stamps. From an AJC piece published in April:

About one in five Georgians receives food stamps, making it among the most frequently used social service programs. Debate is heating up as states adopt federal rules that able-bodied people without children must work or lose the benefit. Georgia enacted the requirement in three counties in January and reached its first deadline April 1. Already, the number of these people on food stamps in the three counties has been cut in half, down to 2,590 recipients.

But in a state hostile to unions and with a minimum wage of only $5.15 an hour, also barring those who receive paychecks from receiving food stamps would have tremendous impact. An estimated 546,000 working Georgians live in households that receive the help, according to one study.

That fact, or at least this portion of it, has already made its way into the 2018 Republican race for governor:

According to a study based on census data, recently highlighted by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, some 3,200 members of this state’s law enforcement community — bailiffs, prison guards, jailers, beat cops and deputy sheriffs — are food stamp recipients.

“That’s probably correct,” said Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.



The morning word from the White House is all about Puerto Rico -- who gets the blame, and who should bear the burden:


The Atlanta Press Club will host a mayoral debate at 10 a.m. today. You can watch the live-streamed event on Facebook here. WABE (90.1FM) will rebroadcast it at 8 p.m. tonight. A televised version will be shown on PBA30 at 10 a.m. Sunday.


The AJC's Ernie Suggs helped Roland Martin break down the race for mayor of Atlanta on Wednesday. Watch it here.


Dec. 5 is shaping up to be a pretty lively news day. That Tuesday is the day, assuming a runoff, we’ll learn the identity of Atlanta’s next mayor. It’s also the date set for oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This is the case of the gay couple refused service at a Colorado bakery.


You know about that heated at-large Atlanta City Council race that features incumbent Michael Julian Bond and challenger Courtney English. On Wednesday, former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin decided it needed a little more gasoline. From an emailed fundraising plea on behalf of English:

I've seen a lot of things in politics. But I've never seen an incumbent excited to be polling below 50%.

Michael Julian Bond is touting a recent 11 Alive poll that shows he has a lead in his re-election bid against Courtney English. However, he's under 50%. What this poll really means is that despite running for office for over 20 years, a famous last name, the power of incumbency and after spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars campaigning, the majority of voters are not committed to re-electing the councilman…

City hall is under a cloud of corruption and Councilman Bond, the recipient of the largest ethics fine in the history of the state--$45,000 for over 300 violations-- is contributing to that cloud. It's time to clean up city hall and after working with Courtney English, I know he has the courage and integrity to lead Atlanta forward.



Tea Party Patriots head Jenny Beth Martin is no fan of Mitch McConnell. The Cherokee County local was one of a handful of conservative group leaders to write to the Senate majority leader Wednesday requesting he resign. The subject line? “Failure of leadership.”

There's more. During a press conference on Capitol Hill, Martin indicated she would be willing to back Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., as majority leader over McConnell. Via Fox News:

Asked about Georgia Sen. David Perdue, Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots suggested she could support him as leader. “I’m from Georgia, so I’m not opposed to him,” Martin said, praising his background as a CEO before being elected to the Senate.

Perdue’s folks have yet to weigh in on this one. (Tamar Hallerman)


One thing U.S. Sen. David Perdue has weighed in on this week: Nuclear energy. The Republican took to the opinion pages of The Hill newspaper calling for a “renewed commitment to domestic nuclear energy.” “We need to send a signal to the rest of the world that nuclear energy is going to continue to be a major part of our domestic energy production,” Perdue wrote.

As the Insider previously told you, Georgia’s lawmakers, and particularly U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, have unexpectedly found themselves the last men standing for nuclear energy on Capitol Hill now that Plant Vogtle is the only new project left in the U.S. In his op-ed, Perdue ultimately steered clear of discussing of the tax credits Vogtle’s backers so desperately want the Senate to approve. Some critics have raised questions about how the credits would be paid for. (TH)


Gov. Nathan Deal sounded optimistic about Georgia's chances against Florida in the water rights case that will come before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. Our colleague Tyler Estep reports that Deal rattled off statistics about the state's reduced per capita water usage over the years during a speech in Duluth on Wednesday:

He called those numbers and others “a pretty good indication of why the state of Florida had such a hard time in the suit they filed against us.”

“We hope that that will continue to go well,  Deal said....

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear oral arguments in the never-ending Georgia-Florida fight later this term.


On the eve of National Coming Out Day, state Rep. Renitta Shannon did just that. The Decatur Democrat posted on Facebook she is bisexual, writing that she is "generally a private person" but that under President Donald Trump's administration "proactive visibility seems more important than ever."

The Georgia Voice reports that she's now the fourth LGBT member of the state Legislature. The others are Park Cannon, Sam Park and Karla Drenner, who was the first openly gay state lawmaker in Georgia history. (Greg Bluestein)


Georgia Democratic moneyman Daniel Halpern, the founder of a restaurant and hospitality company, was tapped as a deputy national finance chair for the Democratic National Committee. Halpern is a close ally of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed - he chaired his mayoral campaign - and was a trustee for President Barack Obama's 2008 inaugural committee. (GB)

MARTA got a shout-out from the country's top transportation official on Wednesday. The AJC's David Wicker reports that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave the mass transit system kudos during a conference at the World Congress Center for serving commuters following the I-85 bridge collapse this spring. (TH)


Typically media-shy, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, spent half an hour in the C-SPAN hot seat Wednesday morning, cheerfully taking viewer questions on tax reform while some of us were still getting out of bed. One of his most interesting observations was about President Donald Trump. "I think for the president, relationships are a negotiation," he said. Woodall went on to praise Trump for the way he has "shaken up the normal flow of the Capitol."

Woodall also acknowledged he would like to be House Budget Committee chairman now that the current head has announced she's stepping down. "We have got a whole bunch of people on the Budget Committee that would be outstanding chairmen," he said. "I would like to count myself to be among those." Woodall has the seniority to make a real run at the chairmanship, but recent reporting from other D.C. media outlets has suggested his colleague Steve Womack, R-Ark., has the edge with party leaders. (TH)


Mayor Kasim Reed may need to step up his efforts to woo Amazon to Atlanta. Check out this eager video from Reed's Kansas City counterpart:




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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.