In both Maine and Missouri, lawmakers have proposed bills this year that could limit what food aid recipients can buy with their SNAP benefits, federal aid often informally described as food stamps.

Wisconsin bill winding its way through the legislative process aims to create an "authorized foods" list. And in Maryland, state Del. Patrick McDonough (R-Baltimore County) floated the idea that the parents of teens who protested (or rioted) in Baltimore should lose any welfare benefits they receive for a month. McDonough described this policy notion as "an idea that could be legislation," and, interestingly, an "opportunity."

While most of the lawmakers responsible for these bills, and comments about potential bills, claim to have seen or been told about poor people making  extravagant and unhealthy food purchases or engaged in what they see as anti-social behavior, one long-running political trope helped to drive this trend. That's the idea that America's poor are a crafty and scheming and yet deeply lazy lot.

This week, economists at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, analyzed federal data and found that despite widespread notions that the poor eat really well and work very little, the latter is indisputably false.

Among the poor, ages 18 to 64, about 35.2 don't work because they are retired, disabled or in school. An additional 64.8 percent are eligible and available to work. Among these, 62.6 percent hold jobs and 44.3 percent work full-time.

Bottom line: The majority of the nation's poor work.  They just work in low-wage jobs.