Green Room

Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio: “We fought a war on poverty and won — until the 80′s came around”

posted at 11:16 am on November 1, 2013 by

It’s such a shame.  I’ve been a big fan of Bravo’s award-winning series, Top Chef, since stumbling across season four, which was based in my then-hometown of Chicago.  Head judge Tom Colicchio is one hell of a cook, and quickly became one of my favorite personalities on the show.  But then Greg Hengler had to go and spoil the fun by alerting me to this:

Greg includes economist Dan Mitchell’s chart, which illustrates how US poverty rates were falling steadily until LBJ’s big-government “war on poverty” began:

Colicchio asserts that government programs basically had poverty licked until the 1980′s rolled around, at which point the “war” transformed into an ideological attack against the social safety net.  Unsaid, but clearly implied: Reagan screwed everything up.  Let’s review.  Poverty rates spiked at the beginning of Reagan’s first term (he inherited a nasty economic situation), then they declined every year once the roaring Reagan recovery kicked in.  You’ll notice that poverty jumped again when the next recession hit, which helped Bill Clinton get elected.  After Clinton and the Republican Congress enacted historic welfare reforms in the mid-90′s — reforms that were angrily decried as “draconian” safety net cuts by people like Tom Colicchio, by the way — the percentage of Americans living in poverty plunged again to five-decade lows.  That number plateaued during the George W. Bush years, and began to dip toward the end of his second term. Then the great recession happened.  Poverty rates (understandably) kicked back up to ‘pre-war’ levels, and (less understandably) have remained high ever since.  More than four years into President Obama’s recovery (the recession officially ended in June of 2009), roughly 15 percent of the US population is still living below the poverty line.  This, despite the federal government spending more on food stamps than ever before, and after more than $800 billion walked out the door in the failed “stimulus” boondoggle.  Colicchio’s prescription for these woes is “good programs.”  I’d put good jobs way ahead of good programs on the solutions scale, but conservatives don’t oppose strong, sustainable safety net programs for the truly needy.  So we agree.  What I fear is that he conflates “good” with “big” — the Left’s fundamental and seemingly incurable category error.  To wit, House Republicans’ recent attempt at enacting modest food stamp reforms have been met with outright hysteria among Democrats.  Tell me, is this cruelty?

The Republican proposal simply ends waivers from SNAP’s traditional work requirements that were granted to states starting in 2010. Prior to 2009, able-bodied adult recipients between the ages of 18 and 50, without children, were required to work, participate in an employment and training program, or participate in a SNAP “workfare” program for at least 20 hours per week. Otherwise, they could collect SNAP benefits for only three months in a given 36 month period. That requirement was waived nationwide in 2009, and on a state-by-state basis after 2010. Currently, 44 states have such waivers

I’m not sure whether Colicchio has lent his voice to the reactionary chorus protesting these reasonable efforts, and frankly, I’d rather not know.  I’m just disappointed that he would use his celebrity to advance lazy analysis — and that he’d choose to do so on a show hosted by one of the most malignant personalities on all of television.  No, I’m not going to walk away from Top Chef or vow never to set foot in a Craft steakhouse ever again.  Living an intensely partisan life is exhausting and limiting.  But I’ll never quite view Colicchio the same way. Too bad he didn’t stick to kitchen wizardry and weekly commentaries on contestants’ “perfectly cooked” scallops.

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Is mass delusion what passes for reality nowadays?

besser tot als rot on November 1, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Well, he does have to consider who’s paying him – cable companies and rich lib clients. “Where a man stands on an issue usually depends on where he sits.”

Marcola on November 1, 2013 at 11:21 AM

I’m hungry. Make me a sandwich, Tom.

22044 on November 1, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Gee, Sally, so sorry you got crushed by some not-so-fabulous reality on Bravo. Go shoe-shopping; heels always give a fella a lift.

/eyeroll

M240H on November 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Seriously, Guy? He is employed by Bravo.

I love Top Chef but I have no illusions as to Bravo’s extreme leftist viewpoint in most, possibly all, of their produced shows. Top Chef has been in bed with the Obama White House for quite some time. Bravo promote the homosexual and Hollywood liberal lifestyle like no other channel.

How can one be shocked by Colicchio being a leftist?

*shaking my head at the constant naiveté and gullibility of Republicans. I think Rush spoke about this on Monday (re: Kraut and Will)…*

Fallon on November 1, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Bravo promotes

Grrrr… th.

Fallon on November 1, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Fallon, not shocked. Just disappointed. He was always a nonpartisan figure to me, and now he’s not. Also, I don’t watch *any* other shows on Bravo.

Guy Benson on November 1, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Maybe he can explain how welfare programs suck the most money of any program. Americans have been desensitized on the stigma of being a free loader & most expect some form of it. When we have more on food stamps than holding full time jobs, that should be considered a problem.

RdLake on November 1, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Celebrated chef Tom Colicchio tweets that relatively little debt accumulated under Barack Obama

Restauranteur and Top Chef host Tom Colicchio signs autographs at the Taste of the NFL at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in 2009. We checked a recent tweet he sent about debt under the past five presidents.

Tom Colicchio is a celebrated chef, restauranteur and reality TV personality. But how is he as a political tweeter?

We recently noticed a tweet Colicchio sent to his 420,000-plus followers on Oct. 20, 2013, that offered the percentage increase in the federal debt under the past five presidents. Here’s the text of the tweet:

“Debt increase by POTUS:

“Reagan 186%

“Bush 54%

“Clinton 41%

“Bush II 72%

“Obama 23% …

“Interesting.”

Our ruling

Colicchio tweeted that under President Barack Obama, the debt has increased by 23 percent, a smaller rise than under any president going back to Ronald Reagan. Using the same method as the tweet, the actual increase under Obama was much higher — 61 percent — leaving Obama in the middle of the pack of the five presidents. Adjusting for each president’s time in office and the size of the economy actually puts Obama atop list of debt-creating presidents. We rate Colicchio’s claim False.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/oct/22/tom-colicchio/celebrated-chef-tom-colicchio-tweets-relatively-li/

Your favorite Top Chef contenders have come to the end of their journeys on the Bravo reality TV series, Life After Top Chef. In the season finale, Tom Colicchio makes a cameo as the four chefs battle it out in a Quickfire-style cook-off in Dallas for First Lady Michelle Obama.

http://realitytvmagazine.sheknows.com/2012/11/28/life-after-top-chef-recap-cooking-healthy-with-michelle-obama/

Attention on childhood nutrition has been mounting recently: A growing number of school gardens have been planted, alternative lunch programs have been kick-started, the first lady has planted a White House garden and the Obama administration has proposed the Child Nutrition Act. Last night, “Top Chef” jumped on board to take a stand, too.

Sam Kass, who works the White House kitchen along with Cristeta Comeford, served as the guest judge. He’s certainly familiar with the subject matter, since first lady Michelle Obama is a champion for the cause.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/michelle-obama/

It’s been obvious for quite some time…

Fallon on November 1, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Another example of an expert (in this case, entertainment and food) stepping outside of his extremely narrow field of expertise and pontificating on things he knows nothing about.

Would you have Tom Colicchio perform your gall bladder surgery? No
Would you have Tom Colicchio replace your brakes before a road trip? No
Would you have Tom Colicchio enter the golf U.S. Open? No
Would you have Tom Colicchio make financial policy for the United States? No
Would you have Tom Colicchio cook you some scallops? Yes

visions on November 1, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I’ve often felt that the reason people might see an uptick in poverty in beginning of 1980s is because at that point you had kids that had spent most of their formative years living under some form of government care entering the workforce. you had a change in mindset for young people on how to get by in the world.

What am I missing?

earlgrey133 on November 1, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I’ve often felt that the reason people might see an uptick in poverty in beginning of 1980s is because at that point you had kids that had spent most of their formative years living under some form of government care entering the workforce. you had a change in mindset for young people on how to get by in the world.

What am I missing?

earlgrey133 on November 1, 2013 at 12:07 PM

With all due respect, instead of relying on your “feelings” you should pick up a book. There are many books about the history of the “War on Poverty.” Thomas Sowell is always a good place to start. After reading a few of those, get any Left-wing book on the same subject to compare and contrast. Then you’ll know the truth about the failed “War on Poverty.”

visions on November 1, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Bless your heart, Tom.

I suggest you rent all six seasons of “Good Times”.

mankai on November 1, 2013 at 12:24 PM

. No, I’m not going to walk away from Top Chef or vow never to set foot in a Craft steakhouse ever again. Living an intensely partisan life is exhausting and limiting.

It is always easier to write a check than to volunteer and carry the load.
It is always easier to throw money at a problem -to, in effect, subsidize that which you wish to eradicate- than it is to find a workable solution then work to make it work.
It is always easier to tell them to do as you say rather than do as you say yourself and show them how it is done.
It always easier to go along to get along.
It is always easier to ride in the middle of the pack than to lead.
It is always easier to rationalize a pleasure than it is to accept a burden.
And it always easier to move on from a wrong than it is to correct it.

M240H on November 1, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Hockey Stick

Jose Pro Se on November 1, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I loved Tom too. Now he is forever changed in my mind. Can’t these people just shut up and do their fricking jobs?

melle1228 on November 1, 2013 at 12:41 PM

Hey Tom, do what you know.
Please don’t talk about the 99.999% that you do not. You only look foolish.
Like talking about hair care products.
Meanwhile, if you want to step out of your cooking comfort zone, you can do something helpful: post some NSFW shots of Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshma.

smfic on November 1, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Since when is a cook credible on domestic policy?

InterestedObserver on November 1, 2013 at 1:39 PM

We went to Craft in L.A. Meh. Okay.

PattyJ on November 1, 2013 at 2:11 PM

…you can do something helpful: post some NSFW shots of Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshma.

smfic on November 1, 2013 at 1:33 PM

I don’t know about Simmons, but as far as that gold-digging, past-her-prime floozie, there are nudie pics all over the place.

Oh, and Tom? Shut up and cook. No one is paying you to think, Dearie.

Maddie on November 1, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Is this part of the liberal delusion that the post-WWII economy – the only industrialized one left standing – is “normal” for what happens under “their policies”?

gwelf on November 1, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Since when is a cook credible on domestic policy?

InterestedObserver on November 1, 2013 at 1:39 PM

They aren’t.

Unless you’re a low information voter. Then you let cultural icons tell you “facts” about “history”.

gwelf on November 1, 2013 at 2:23 PM

go make me a samwich, Tom

burserker on November 1, 2013 at 2:49 PM

TV personalities they just don’t get it…they are popular because they do one thing, look and sound good on a specific show on TV.

They have really nothing else, nothing more than the average person on the street…most really aren’t even that smart.

Tom is a good cook, and a good TV host, leave it at that…

right2bright on November 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM

So….
Reagan’s fault?

Yeah, I always turn to a celebrity cook to educate me on forensic economic analysis.

LegendHasIt on November 1, 2013 at 3:27 PM

What’s for chow, cookie?

claudius on November 1, 2013 at 3:30 PM

This sentiment is usually reserved for actors and musicians, but now, sadly, it must be used for chefs as well:

Shut up and cook.

djm1992 on November 1, 2013 at 3:43 PM

like Levin day before yesterday – foretelling the assault on radio with Mignon (lol) leading the charge –
I used to love Top Chef, and changed my package yesterday because I figured out I was paying 10 extra bucks a month for the privilege of accessing Bravo.

For one show, that has now been downgraded to sex and villainy, with a double dose of commercials, uh no thanks Tom. You have been cancelled. Now I have zero regret.

seesalrun2 on November 1, 2013 at 4:55 PM

50 million. What a nice round number to pull out of one’s bum.

Right there. Full stop. Defend the number and make it good. He cannot. He can defend, but he cannot make it good. It’s somebody else’s number used to stake a position. It’s bogus. Displaced anger, the easiest of all to flail on about.

So now you know. Shut up and cook my steak. Too stupid to talk about politics.

bour3 on November 1, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Head judge Tom Colicchio is one hell of a cook, and quickly became one of my favorite personalities on the show.

Guy Benson, you have awful taste in television personalities. Simply awful.

That gratingly irritating, douchey Tom is one of the most annoying people on tv. The arrogant toad has an overly high opinion of himself and acts like a know-it-all in every episode. Whenever he is shown to be wrong, he gets visibly upset, as he obviously can’t take the blows to his ego.

bluegill on November 1, 2013 at 6:49 PM

(less understandably) have remained high ever since…

Seriously? Even a self proclaimed RINO squish like yourself can’t understand that when you have (a) a government that hates business and squashes it with overbearing regulations, and (b) welfare candy they will remain higher – and climb.

This is why I hate the establishment. “Lower taxes…” Screw taxes. Get rid of the regulatory state and reimpose the workfare rules and real employment will rise like a rocket. It was GHWBush who allowed the regulatory state to start to increase, Bill who further encouraged it, and GW who didn’t see a bill he could ever veto. We need someone who will slash the government – even if it means giving the EPA a 2 year salary to cut them all loose, it will pay itself back in no time…

deadite on November 1, 2013 at 9:10 PM

Celebrities (that is, people that lucked into wealth by being popular for being popular) have a strong tendency to fall into this trap. They are painfully aware that they didn’t really do anything to deserve all for the fortune they enjoy, so they don’t think anyone else did, either, and the fact that they know that people like them mostly live in poverty until they get a big break confuses them about why people are poor.

Count to 10 on November 1, 2013 at 9:33 PM

It might also be be a good time to remember that “poverty” in the US would be considered “middle class” in Europe, and luxurious in much of the rest of the world.

Count to 10 on November 1, 2013 at 9:37 PM

We went to Craft in L.A. Meh. Okay.

PattyJ on November 1, 2013 at 2:11 PM

You’re not alone with that opinion. What I’d pay heavy dollar to see, though, is these highly rated “chefs/critics” on Top Chef compete with a good number of those they reject. I seriously doubt Colicchio would survive most quick fire challenges, let alone more serious segments. I am a foodie, lived in NY for a long time, and NEVER heard of the idiot Bourdain until he published his book, he NEVER rated nor amounted to anything let alone spending money at the place he worked at. He is no more than average, at best, and by NY standards even bellow that and he is/was a judge on Top Chef? Talk about sense of reality, a mediocre chef judging those who are way better than he can ever be. And Collichio is a FRIED MEAT chef, for frigging sake, they are dime a dozen in NY area. You want GREAT steak in NY? Go to Sparks. Why waste money on inferior product at Craft?

I watch Top Chef, but not for the idiots judging it.

riddick on November 1, 2013 at 11:52 PM

++> I watch Top Chef, DESPITE the idiots judging it.

riddick on November 1, 2013 at 11:58 PM

Yep, those who can, do. Those who can’t, go on TV.

PattyJ on November 2, 2013 at 12:59 AM

Could be the reason that I’ve had Bravo blocked for about one year now. I really don’t miss it.

avagreen on November 3, 2013 at 7:44 PM