The Instigator
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The Contender
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Surf-n-Turf Law (House Bill 813) is illogical and unreasonable.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2015 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,009 times Debate No: 73557
Debate Rounds (3)
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Missouri State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced House Bill 813, also known as the "Surf-and-Turf" Law. This law prevents food-stamp recipients from using their benefits to purchase cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak. Brattin claims that the purpose of the new law is to "...get the food stamp program back to its original intent, which is nutrition assistance,"

I am against this for many reasons, Challenger needs to support the law and prove why it would be beneficial.


I will present the Pro argument for Brattin's House Bill 813.

In this debate I will support this law and prove why it would be beneficial for both the recipients of the food stamp program and the taxpayers who support it.

The food stamp program is officially known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). It is, essentially, a government benefit that allows for families of lower incomes to buy certain foods for their households. The government works alongside Food and Nutrition agencies, nutrition educators, and local or faith-based organizations to ensure that those millions eligible for assistance make informed decisions and have access to resources. [1]

It is important to understand that in order for these families to receive the food stamps, the food must already have been paid for. This means that a portion of taxes go toward this program.

That being said, Brattin and other Republicans have introduced the House Bill 813 to prevent food-stamp recipients from using the benefits to purchase "luxury" or "junk" foods.

For clarification (taken from Oxford dictionary):
Luxury: an inessential, desirable item which is expensive or difficult to obtain.
Junk food: pre-prepared or packaged food that has low nutritional value.

Cookies, chips, energy drinks, and soft drinks all fall under the junk food category, I'm sure we agree. Seafood and steak, however, are much broader terms. Brattin later admitted that the language might need some tweaking. He hadn't intended to ban items such as tuna or fish sticks, which are good for the diet. He meant the more luxurious seafood such as lobster and sushi, which many taxpayers cannot afford on their salaries. The food-stamps recipients are, in reality, using the taxpayers' money to buy crab legs and such. [2]

But besides the abuse of SNAP's intentions, it would also be beneficial to the families in poverty to have regulated item lists from which to buy. This would cut down on the sugary stuff and lead to healthier families. This is especially good for the children of such families. The healthy diets would promote brain and body function, resulting in better performance in schools.

The First Lady was heralded for her initiative to make school lunches healthier. Brattin is attempting the same thing on a much larger scale. The US is the most obese nation on the planet. While many are against this law, Brattin states, "This is anything but an attack on the poor. It's good government to ensure that those in need have good nutritional assistance without raking the taxpayer over the coals. This isn't me controlling what you can do with your own money, this happens to be the taxpayers' money." [3]

Brattin plans to clarify the language in the bill, which undergo an extensive legislative process of debates and amendments.

In conclusion, the recipients of SNAP benefit because their diet is improved, leading to healthier minds and bodies. The taxpayers benefit in that their money does not buy items that they themselves cannot afford for other people and their families.

Thank you for your time, and good luck.

Debate Round No. 1


BBoehmig forfeited this round.


Con has forfeited Round 2, therefore failing to rebut my case in Round 1.

My argument still holds, and I have nothing to add at this time.

Thank you for your time.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your patience I apologize that I did not have my response ready for round 2.

Thank you for your clarification and definitions of The food stamp program (SNAP), the proposed purpose of the bill, luxury, and junk food. Although, I have a few problems with how they relate to the bill, and your argument that "it would be beneficial for both the recipients of the food stamp program and the taxpayers who support it."

Yes, I do agree that cookies, chips, soft drinks, and especially energy drinks all fall under the category of 'junk food'. yet, I will argue that they are still a part of the diet of a majority of Americans.
As for seafood and steak. Despite what Brattin claims, the proposed bill has been drafted, and until changes are made, I am opposed to that said bill. Having said that, you still have some good points. If he truly meant that the more luxurious items in those categories be banned, I would then change my stance on that part of the bill. Fish and red meat are, in some opinions, part of a healthy diet. But restricting 2 categories of meat is unreasonable in my opinion. There are luxury items in these categories, but there are also affordable ones. As for steak, you can get new york strip for $10 lb, or premium kobe for anywhere from $1-200lb. Same with seafood, You can get affordable fish like tilapia, or salmon, or you can get Really good, expensive tuna. My point is there is no logic in banning the whole spectrum.
In response to Brattin not planning on banning tuna or fish sticks, this sounds like an easy out to me. According to your definition of 'Junk food' ,"... pre-prepared or packaged food that has low nutritional value." I would consider tuna (canned I assume) and certainly fish sticks under the category of 'junk food'. personally I wouldn't consider them junk food, but they are pre packaged, and processed. Overall I believe he's saying 'you can't buy the luxury foods but you can buy the cheap ones' opposed to ' you can't buy the luxury foods but you can get the nutritional ones'. SNAP is an assistance program, not a support program. The amount of money people get is supplemental to their income, to help by paying for food, its not as if they get food stamps and go out and leave with more groceries than a person that has a job a supports themselves. its just a little bit of extra money to help.

The abuse of food stamps has been studied and is a small percentage of the population of recipients. As for regulating items from which to buy would be the opposite of beneficial. Sure, cutting down on sugar in a diet is almost always beneficial, but whose to say all the recipients make bad choices when buying food? and yes, again a healthier diet will promote better brain and body function, but where are the facts that say 'SNAP recipients only buy junk foods, and need regulation'? better performance in schools would be beneficial, to the student and future community, but your basis behind it is false, therefore it isn't relevant.

The First Lady had a great plan with the school lunch program, But Brattin's plan is what we are debating, and they have many differences. Taking sodas out and bringing better food into schools vs. putting a restriction on the foods that 14-15% of Americans wouldn't be able to purchase....and my response to, "...without raking the taxpayer over the coals".... the amount of people on food stamps, and funding going to the program has been on a decline since its record of 47.8 million recipients in December 2012.

If and when Rick Brattin revises the bill and defines his terms, I will revisit my position on House Bill 813, but until then I still stand that it is illogical and unreasonable.

thank you.


Welcome back to the debate!

You, too, make a good argument.

Until Brattin drafts and clarifies the language in the bill, it will remain extremely controversial. Fish, poultry, and red meat are part of a healthy diet, but no more than six ounces per day. [1] The whole spectrum, as you say, will not be banned. Only the more "luxurious" cuts.

As for canned tuna and fish sticks being labeled as "junk food":

  • canned tuna's nutritional summary (1 oz): 33 calories, 0.23g fat, 7.23g protein. Calorie breakdown: 7% fat, 0% carbs, 93% protein.

  • breaded fish stick's nutritional summary (6 sticks): 190 calories, 9g fat, 11g protein. Calorie breakdown: 38% fat, 41% carbs, 21% protein.

  • Lay's classic potato chips (40g): 220 calories, 14g fat, 2g protein. Calorie breakdown: 58% fat, 39% carbs, 3% protein.

I included the potato chips, a classic example of junk food, for comparison. As you can see, both the tuna and fish sticks have far less fat content and much more protein. I suppose you could classify the fish sticks as junk food, but it is a bit of a stretch as compared to others. [2] Recall that the definition of junk food had two qualifiers: pre-prepared OR packaged food WITH low nutritional value. Many foods are packaged for the sake of freshness and to prevent contamination.

You stated that "regulating items...would be the opposite of beneficial." You fail to show the negative consequences of such a thing, and in fact go on to agree that it would be beneficial but the "basis behind it is false." Not all SNAP recipients abuse the system, but if the items list was regulated would those who use it wisely be greatly affected?

You stated with a credible source that the amount of recipients of the program have been declining, but there are still millions of family on the welfare. This means that taxpayers are still supporting millions of families, and thus renders that argument irrelevant.

Thank you for your time.

Debate Round No. 3
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