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  • Rise in Food Stamps Part of Growing Dependence on Washington

    America was supposed to be the land of self-government. Citizens were to govern themselves politically and morally. But such an independent citizen is proving to be less common every year.

    Now, more people than ever before depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance. As many as 100 million Americans receive means-tested assistance.

    The food stamps program is a key factor driving the increase in dependency.

    As Heritage experts Robert Rector and Katherine Bradley report, in the average month in 2010, roughly one of every five households in the U.S. received food stamp benefits. And those on food stamps today tend to rely on government more tomorrow. At any given moment, most recipients are or will become long-term dependents. In fact, half of food stamp aid to families with children has gone to families that have received aid for 8.5 years or more. Plus, most people who receive food stamps also participate in other government aid programs as well. So those costs multiply over time.

    It’s tempting to say the welfare state is expanding because the economy is weak, but the fact is that the recession isn’t the problem here.

    Before the current recession, combined federal and state spending on food stamps nearly doubled. Under the Bush Administration, it rose from $19.8 billion in 2000 to $37.9 billion in 2007. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has more than doubled spending on food stamps again: Spending rose from $39 billion in 2008 to a projected $85 billion in 2012. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, food stamp spending is now nearly twice the level of any previous recession.

    Instead of providing a “hand up,” food stamps is a fossilized program that, except for greatly increased costs, has changed little since its inception in the early years of the War on Poverty. It remains, basically, a “handout.”

    For example, the program was largely unaffected by the welfare reform legislation of 1996, which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), even though TANF and food stamp caseloads overlap to a great degree. TANF helped millions of people move off welfare and become self-sufficient. The same principles, rewarding work and discouraging dependency, should be applied to food stamps today.

    The goal of the War on Poverty, President Lyndon Johnson said, would be “making taxpayers out of tax-eaters.” He declared, “We want to give the forgotten fifth of our people opportunity, not doles.” LBJ’s proclaimed goal was to create a new generation of Americans capable of supporting themselves without government handouts.

    It’s still possible to make welfare temporary and to encourage individual initiative. But doing so would require major changes in anti-poverty programs, starting with food stamps.

    Following the welfare reform model, food stamps should be transformed from an open-ended entitlement program that gives one-way handouts into a work activation program. Non-elderly, able-bodied adults who receive benefits should be required to work, prepare for work, or at least look for work as a condition of receiving aid.

    Policymakers should also crack down on fraud and eliminate application loopholes that permit food stamp recipients to bypass income and asset tests. Finally, Congress should cap spending on food stamps at pre-recession levels to force the program to focus on the truly needy.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Rise in Food Stamps Part of Growing Dependence on Washington

    1. steve h says:

      Yeah, we should totally ignore the economic recessions and job losses and just make these people suck it up have more people go hungry, more homes lost, more being unable to pay for medicine, more being unable to pay for school supplies or clothes…love those compassionate conservatives. One minute you scream about the bible when it comes to marriage. The next minute you ignore the 200+ references in the bible about caring for the poor and hungry and sick. Remember Matthew 25? Where how you treat the lest of us is how you treat the lord? Good luck with that. And on an economic argument – don't you see how food stamps actually helps the economy? They have the biggest bang for the buck of anything…far more than tax cuts when it comes to economic impact.

      • Bobbie says:

        steve, in reference to your first sentence, why would you want to do that?
        what does the government have to do with the bible?
        Getting food stamps or anything from government to sustain your life, is not the message from the bible. Stop distorting it!

    2. @lwinger6 says:

      Amen! From what we see daily with patients in our office, perhaps 20-25% of welfare receipients are abusing the system. We see resturant owners, realtors, excavators, nurses, etc receiving benefits. They take vacations, they drive luxury cars, carry smart phones, get Botox, and receive medicaid benefits that I subsidize. This is a huge issue that must be addressed, but say anything and you are labeled a "bully".

    3. Bobbie says:

      and the Greatest Man on Earth who preached no religion nor endorsed any said "give to Caesar what is Caesar's."

      Any persons livelihood or the neglect to self govern from an unwilling percentage, is not Caesar's role or the American government's to intrude!

      Sinners are the tax collectors. Receivers of the taxes collected from government to those the government belittles to subsidize personal responsibilities distorts the bibles true message by reflecting government's will be God's. Having government people pervert their role to legislate inalienable rights and/or determine the rule of any man's livelihood over another is the purest of evil.

      America's Government under these blatant uncivil people running it = nothing to trust and worse of course!

      All you rich government supporters, don't let the government come between you and God's will. Or if you don't believe in God, don't let the government come between you and your sincerity. A rise in government dependency in America is destroying America's concept, weakening by destruction from government controlled resources, the human initiative to survive ones own…

      This is an ugly picture of America, poorly governed.

      Is the Hollywood rich on America's side where they got their fame or the side of government socialism, fascism, racism, communism, tax the richism… which is it?

    4. taxedmore says:

      We have $15 Trillion in debt because we spent $16.5 Trillion on Poverty Programs since the 1960's and we got just what we paid for – plenty of poverty.

      • Katie says:

        Dear Taxedmore We haven't paid off the debt since Jackson. You can thank Lehman Brothers and Ernest and Young and Bush for the payout.

    5. Katie says:

      If Ernest and Young hadn't aided Lehman Brothers America would not have this problem. Greedy Bastards.

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