• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Reforming the Fastest Growing Government Welfare Program

    The House of Representatives is poised to pass a budget reconciliation measure that would tackle increased spending in the food stamps program (or, as it’s currently known, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program).

    It would do this by eliminating “categorical eligibility” in the program, which ignores income and asset limitations in granting food stamps to people receiving cash welfare assistance. It also accelerates the sunset date for a temporary food stamp benefit increase provided by the 2009 stimulus bill.

    Since President Obama came to office, spending on food stamps has doubled, from $39 billion in 2008 to close to $80 billion in 2012. But while more people receive food stamps, the amount of spending has outpaced the increase in participation.

    To tackle burgeoning costs and growing rolls, Congress should take steps to not only get spending under control but to turn food stamps into a work activation program:

    First, the entitlement spending structure should be removed. Under the current funding structure, states receive more money as they actively seek to enroll more people. Automatically increasing spending incentivizes states to increase food stamp participation. Instead, states should receive a fixed amount of money each year that does not go up or down depending on the size of their food stamp rolls (with adjustments made for times of economic downturn, as well as for annual inflation rates). This provision gives a fiscal incentive to move people off the rolls and into the workforce.

    A work requirement for all non-elderly, able-bodied recipients is another critical element to reforming the food stamps program. The number of hours of required activity would be based on the amount of the food stamp benefit received.

    Other possible reforms for consideration include mandatory drug testing for recipients. Taxpayers should not be asked to pay for food for recipients who are actively spending other sources of income on illegal drugs. Currently under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, states have the option to drug test, but few have chosen to do so. Also, restrictions should be put on the use of EBT cards—for example, not allowing them to be used for soft drinks and junk food. Finally, repealing provisions such as “categorical eligibility,” which automatically enrolls people in food stamps once they apply for another welfare program, should be eliminated.

    Since the War on Poverty began in the 1960s, government welfare spending has increased dramatically. Today, the U.S. spends 16 times the amount (adjusting for inflation) on welfare than it did five decades ago—and more than it did back in 1996, when President Clinton vowed to “end welfare as we know it.” Government spending on means-tested cash, food and housing program is now twice the amount needed to push the income of every poor person in the U.S. above the poverty line.

    Getting ever-expanding welfare costs under control with common-sense reforms to programs like food stamps—the fastest growing government welfare program—would help tackle the increasing burden on American taxpayers. Additionally, these reforms would help promote self-reliance for those in need, a goal that all welfare programs should aim to achieve.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Reforming the Fastest Growing Government Welfare Program

    1. Whats_Up says:

      I believe us taxpayers should get these food stamp recipients to work for us on a daily basis. I've a lot of yard work to be done. Tit for tat, eh? One has proof they are a taxpayer and not a food stamp recipient – and walla – you should qualify for peeps to work your property who do receive food stamps.

    2. Whats_Up says:

      Bottom line, food stamp recipients need to work for taxpayers: no salary or wage. Should be the equal exchange, yes? I've a boatload of yard work to do …send those food stamp critters my way. They will get a great day of hard work. burn a boatload of calories and I'll even provide great water throughout the day.

      FAIR is FAIR …what say you, Barack Hussein Obama? Schmuck-head, Moosie, Putzhead.

    3. Carol, AZ says:

      "Reforming the faster growing welfare programs" which is riddle with fraud, gone wild has been spoken about endlessly. .
      Few people will dispute that families who need help should receive food stamps to help feed their families.
      However, all 50 States refuse to admit this out-of-control give away, is riddle with fraud, identity theft, the "resale of food stamps", the scamming by grocery stores that fake the numbers to the Fed.Govt, for their Fed F.Stamp kick-back check. The false registrations for food stamps, based on the amount of children who are the actual family members.
      There's no accountability within the system and regulatory principles don't exist .The fraud includes supporting an unaccountable ( in the millions) families who are living here illegally living off of all 50 States. , "lots of junk food going around. " is one way to describe the continued fleecing of America because it's allowed,encouraged by a dysfunctional system supported by US.

    4. Bobbie says:

      I watched Gretta Van Sustren last night and heard her concerns for the poor. She isn't considering the factual poor losing their independence due to the expenses of this weakest of government with no dignity, take over. This country has made exception to the point of lost principle, lost core ethics, lost dignity where America has lost her purpose.

      Immigrants would be assets to America like they imply they are by taking on their obligation to provide for their own as America stands for. Everyone benefits from the American culture or those government members whose acts effect us beyond our control, wouldn't stand cowardly to plead the 5th.

      Livelihoods and the foreign cultures that pertain has to stop. These are personal expenses with personal benefit that prohibits tax funding as America's government is ban in support or service of people with bias, favoritism, racism and discrimination.

      It doesn't come to mind in todays' America to figure things out on ones' own when todays' American government fears the people by counteracting personal ability to think for themselves.

      Same rules have to apply on matters that effect society like housing ownership and all maintenance bills that pertain (get rid of fannie and freddie.) The expense of ones' own health is ones own as one can only take care to control ones' own. If people can't provide the basic necessities of their own then they're obligate strict qualifications to prove it to get outside government help! None of this "oh, you're not white, here you go…"

      America welcomed people to live free and self sufficiently not feed off the white people who were sadly set up by the weakest of mankind now government members and their media allies with their blatant lies and bad speak (only reflecting themselves,) showing and conjuring hatred toward white people who's words and actions does not comply.

      White people speak for themselves even when up against the white supremacists of Nancy pelosi, Harry Reid, Chris mathews, Bill ayres, Ed schultz, George Soros, etc. who's words are only their own truth and can't face those they lie about WHO WILL LOWER THEMSELVES EVEN FURTHER to deem a mexican "white" to further their hatred for "white" people as if THEIR "whiteness" is above it all! They speak for themselves. The powers in government have no respect for reality, so they make it up!! Causing an uprise of murder and rape! This is the display of mankind's' weakest spreading rapidly in leadership roles, around the world. "People" (notice if you are included under the term people) have to take accountability to take care of their own like America was once proud of and once stood for.

      Really? How long is America going to stand while the weakest of mankind governs her? Sorry to go off. Get rid of the discretionary spending so minds can develop on their own without wrongful influence!

    5. Bobbie says:

      correction on third paragraph. I don't want livelihoods to stop. Just Government FUNDING livelihoods and the foreign cultures that pertain is unAmerican and has to stop! (Life is ones own business and should hold no infringement on other lives! EVER!)

      As mentioned, the American culture is open to all Americans or people wouldn't have the liberty to express their disliking, while foreign cultures in America only benefits those of the culture. No discretionary spending on livelihoods and or cultural education as this is preferential and learned by observation. No laws should accommodate, appease or reflect Muslim or any foreign ignorance so to help build mentality and tolerance, because this is AMERICA WHERE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT FAVORITISM OF ANYTHING PREFERENTIAL (using everyone's money except the money from those favored) DOES NOT REFLECT AMERICA!

      • Dee says:

        The sad thing is that you really believe what you are saying? Your complete ignorance is a sign of the times, especially if you think non whites get special treatment when it comes to welfare. You wonder why other races across the world dislike white people. What is the difference in someone thinking they are entitled because they are black versus you acting like white people are inherently entitled because your are white? The only indigenous people are Native Americans. Their land was stolen and they were forced to live on reservations.

        • Bobbie says:

          if you can't respect the facts people live your ignorance is your disgrace! The indigenous people are not native to America they're native to this land and here before America was established! And unless you were there you only feed off what you're spoon fed that should really be sending you back to your country of origin! Don't assume my skin color with your third world American public educated sign of the times, mentality! The indigenous could've taken out the white man any time, but they didn't because they're better than that and saw what was to be good, good. People can't control personal behavior of anyone else but their own. I take no credit for those disingenuous people OF ANY SKIN COLOR! GROW UP AND RISE ABOVE YOUR CHOSEN MAN MADE IGNORANCE! I pray for you and the rest who are so easily manipulated!

    6. CforUS says:

      WHAT THE HELL TOOK SO LONG TO GET THIS BILL DRAFTED? This has been a problem since the 60's and has gotten worse ever since. Now that the "mad dash for cash president" has made it so easy to join the gravy train, sane minds have to put on the brakes. Once the house passes this everyone that's reading this article needs to contact everyone they know and get them to contact their Senator to urge a yes vote on the measure.

    7. Nolanimrod says:

      Is this another Lobbyist Relief Act?
      Also, restrictions should be put on the use of EBT cards—for example, not allowing them to be used for soft drinks and junk food
      So K Street gets a few more millionaires as they stuff legislators' and regulators' pockets in a effort to be called something other than "soft drink" or "junk?"

    8. Jan says:

      I know of many on Welfare and they are out eating at places I can not afford, taking trips I can not afford, getting food stamps for their boyfriends or live ins that I can not afford and guess what I work a 40 hour week. Something has got to change. I am so sick of the baby daddy routine or I am a single parent instead of rewarding for having over 2 children that they could not afford to take care of to begin with, put them on birth control programs.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×