The Food Stamp President? Will record welfare growth be the Obama Legacy
In 2001 and 2002, six states adopted rules that eased income and asset requirements for SNAP, the Wall Street Journal story noted. “Previously, applicants could be disqualified if they had $5,000 in the bank, or earned slightly more than the poverty threshold.” The idea was to use government aid to keep Americans from wiping out their savings.
“Policy makers wanted to allow newly poor families, such as those where the breadwinner was temporarily unemployed, to have enough money to put gas in the cars and pay phone bills — two necessities for finding and retaining jobs,” the article notes.
Well-intentioned? Perhaps. Costly? Absolutely.
Last year, the federal government spent $74.6 billion on food stamp benefits, or as the Wall Street Journal story points out, roughly equivalent to the combined budgets of the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Department of the Interior. Expenditures have grown from $30.4 billion in 2007.
More than $102.67 million in food assistance benefits was paid out to 854,692 recipients of the program in January, according to the state Department of Health Services.
Today, thanks in large part to the encouragement of the Obama administration, 43 states and
territories have eased food stamp eligibility requirements. U.S.
“We believe that increasing the number of states that implement (eased) eligibility will benefit families hurt by the economic crisis, promote savings among low income households, and simplify state policies,” Jessica Shahin, a top USDA official, wrote to other federal program overseers in 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Please encourage your States to adopt (the looser rules) to improve SNAP operations in your States.”
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