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Won't Work for Food Stamps: Today's food-stamp debate has echoes of welfare reform

Posted by on Sep. 25, 2013 at 1:51 PM
  • 26 Replies


Today's food-stamp debate has echoes of welfare reform.

John Lewis was furious. "They're coming for the children. They're coming for the poor. They're coming for the sick, the elderly and the disabled," said the Georgia Democrat. He was speaking in 1996 during the debate over welfare reform that he predicted would "put one million more children into poverty."

The reform passed but none of that happened. The law was an historic success, shrinking the welfare rolls even as its work requirement put more Americans on the road to self-sufficiency. Ron Haskins of the Brooking Institution found that, a decade after the changes, 60% of the adults leaving welfare were employed and child poverty rates fell.


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It's worth recalling Mr. Lewis's fear and loathing amid this week's debate over a GOP attempt to impose a few modest reforms on America's exploding food-stamp entitlement. Democrats and the media are predicting a moral catastrophe, with the same over-the-top rhetoric, and they are as wrong now as they were then.

The nearby chart shows the explosion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from 2000-2012. The costs keep rising and will be about $83 billion this year, more than double the amount as recently as 2008. One-in-seven Americans, or 47.7 million, now let taxpayers pay for some or all of their grocery bills. That's more than the combined population of California, Oregon and Washington.

You'd expect the rolls to expand during a recession, but note that they are still climbing even in the fifth year of an economic recovery. Never has the program exploded like this. One reason is that the Obama Administration has actively sought to turn food stamps into another middle-class entitlement.


One of President Obama's first actions was to suspend the 20 hour-a-week work requirement for able-bodied adults as part of the 2009 stimulus. His budget requests in 2011, 2012 and 2013 called for the continued suspension of work requirements. Thanks to federal waivers, work rules remain effectively void in 45 states.

Mr. Obama also eliminated a long-standing three-month limit for employable adults to receive food stamps. Now benefits can last for three years or more. Congressional Research Service and USDA data show that the number of employable adults on food stamps without children expanded by 164% from 2007 to 2011 and only one in five of these recipients is working. College students are collecting food stamps in record numbers.

Mr. Obama also made food stamps more popular by giving recipients a cost-of-living adjustment that raised the value of food stamps by more than 10%. Families can now receive up to $10,000 in food stamps a year. Keep in mind this is only one of more than 50 federal welfare programs.

The bill that House Republicans passed Thursday evening would try to reverse these dependency trends. It would reinstate work requirements for employable adults without children and allow states to begin experimenting with work requirements for able-bodied recipients. It would eliminate the roughly $40 million a year that the government spends to convince Americans to enroll in the program.

And it would close the "categorical eligibility" loophole that has put 1.8 million Americans on food stamps who don't qualify, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Categorical eligibility allows individuals to automatically qualify for SNAP if they receive benefits from other low-income assistance programs, such as cash welfare, Supplemental Security Income, or home heating subsidies.

Since these programs often don't have asset requirements, this allows states to give food benefits to those with homes, cars or bank accounts worth well above the limit for food stamps. In a September 2009 memo to state officials, federal food-stamp administrator Jessica Shahin wrote that "We encourage you to continue promoting expanded categorical eligibility as a way to increase SNAP participation."

The House reforms are sensible, but they are far less stringent than the 1996 welfare reform. That law required nearly all employable recipients of cash welfare (including single mothers) to work or get job training. Unlike welfare reform, food stamps would still have no time limit on benefits and families with children wouldn't be affected.

The GOP reforms will save taxpayers about $4 billion a year from the more than $80 billion cost of food stamps. But those savings are secondary to the social value of starting again to replace the lifestyle of government dependency with the self-respect and upward economic mobility that comes from work.

by on Sep. 25, 2013 at 1:51 PM
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SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Sep. 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM
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Ironic that the welfare reform bill that President Clinton signed in 1996 with great trepidation, turned out to be wildly successful, so that he proudly and rightly considers it one of the most important items in his legacy.

Which Obama desiccated once he was in office.

That many Dems now think is so "heartless."

Hmmm.

Naturewoman4
by Silver Member on Sep. 25, 2013 at 3:07 PM
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Well I think it's wrong for any American other than the truly disabled, to collect FS without giving back by means of volunteering and helping one's community in some way.  I think any President that allows anyone to collect any form of PA without giving back, is only enabling Americans and teaching them they don't have to do anything for any 'freebies' they are receiving.  It's a disgracetsk tsk

Naturewoman4
by Silver Member on Sep. 25, 2013 at 3:19 PM
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When I was a SAHM things were tight, but I wouldn't take any form of PA or FS.  Now days I keep hearing about how SAHM's are now able to collect FS, or other forms of PA without even having to work.  So, basically they are being paid to be a SAHM. 

tsk tsk I wanted to be a SAHM, so if I wanted to bring in extra money to help with bills I babysat & had a paper route.  Yet, many SAHM's I hear about aren't having to get out there and look for work, babysit or anything.  I hate the fact that we taxpayers are having to pay for all those that are receiving 'freebies' & are able to work but chooses not to. 

-Celestial-
by Platinum Member on Sep. 25, 2013 at 3:21 PM

And looked what happen between 2008-2009..hmmmmm

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Sep. 25, 2013 at 3:33 PM
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I'm sorry - What are you talking about?

"Looked?" 

Do you deny that welfare reform under Clinton and the Republican Congress decreased the number of recipients, and increased the number of those working, by 50%? That kind of success rate is almost unheard of. 

Quoting -Celestial-:

And looked what happen between 2008-2009..hmmmmm



Sat.Wed
by Bronze Member on Sep. 25, 2013 at 8:03 PM
1 mom liked this

Must be nice to quilfy for fs we dont

29again
by Gold Member on Sep. 25, 2013 at 11:23 PM
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THIS is what really irritates me about FS..  Families can now receive up to $10,000 in food stamps a year.  That works out to $833 per month!  NO one needs that much food in a month!  If Congress does nothing but put a limit on how much one family can receive, it would be an enormous help.  But I have nothing against them cutting 4 billion a year, either.

sarahjz
by Bronze Member on Sep. 26, 2013 at 10:40 AM


Quoting 29again:

THIS is what really irritates me about FS..  Families can now receive up to $10,000 in food stamps a year.  That works out to $833 per month!  NO one needs that much food in a month!  If Congress does nothing but put a limit on how much one family can receive, it would be an enormous help.  But I have nothing against them cutting 4 billion a year, either.

What is the household capacity for $833 a month?  When I worked for the department of social services, that would have been like 9-10 people living in the home to qualify for anything close to that amount.

sarahjz
by Bronze Member on Sep. 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM


Quoting Naturewoman4:

When I was a SAHM things were tight, but I wouldn't take any form of PA or FS.  Now days I keep hearing about how SAHM's are now able to collect FS, or other forms of PA without even having to work.  So, basically they are being paid to be a SAHM. 

tsk tsk I wanted to be a SAHM, so if I wanted to bring in extra money to help with bills I babysat & had a paper route.  Yet, many SAHM's I hear about aren't having to get out there and look for work, babysit or anything.  I hate the fact that we taxpayers are having to pay for all those that are receiving 'freebies' & are able to work but chooses not to. 

Not intending to argue, but I know a lot of people that are SAHM and not a one of them recieves food stamps.  So, maybe it just depends on your area.  The people that I do know, that are on FS, are students, and part-time employed people.

idunno1234
by Silver Member on Sep. 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM
2 moms liked this

 I think the welfare reform bill was great.  The economy was a bit different at that time as well.

More poor jobless people with little to no opportunity to make a living wage means more people are hungry and need to be fed.  As usual, children, the elderly and disabled make up the majority of recipients. Obama wasn't just gleefully waving a magic wand and thinking that increasing the welfare budget was a great idea.  It was done out of necessity.  You either know this or figure tough shit for hungry people.

I am finally getting support from my ex....minimal as he worked hard not to at his commissioned job while forcing me to spend every dime I had to get him to help me support the kids.  Anyway, his support doesn't even cover my rent.  I just learned yesterday that my SNAP monthly total will be $95.  To feed me and three kids.  I currently have no other income.

I still have to prove 30 hours work search a week for that $95.

So go ahead and complain about my and other poor people's  irresponsibility, bad choices, whatever it is that landed us heren for the first time in my life having to depend on someone else to feed my kids, while my kids suffer and I try to figure out what I'm going to do.  I wish it was as easy as going out and getting a job.  You have no idea how much I wish it was that easy.....just work and my problems go away.  I wish I could convey to you my frustration when I read posts from clueless people who make assumptions as easily as they sit on the toilet unleashing crap every day.

I try to constantly widen my perspective, play devil's advocate with myself, read various sources, understand my biases but lately its been admittedly tough because my personal shit is just getting to be too much.  My perspective can't helped but be colored by what I'm going through right now.  My experiences in this job market at my age and workgap are beyond depressing.  They are soul crushing.  Sounds dramatic but that is honestly how i feel. 

Until any of you have been in this position, something I thought, even two years ago, would never happen to me, then realize that you are missing an extremely important perspective on why your constant bitching about poor people and the drains they are on society is meaningless to those going through it, except that it is one more thing to deal with- being the recipient of others' negative assumptions and judgment.

 


Quoting SallyMJ:

Ironic that the welfare reform bill that President Clinton signed in 1996 with great trepidation, turned out to be wildly successful, so that he proudly and rightly considers it one of the most important items in his legacy.

Which Obama desiccated once he was in office.

That many Dems now think is so "heartless."

Hmmm.


 

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