A new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirms that food stamp participation doubled among able-bodied adults after the Obama Administration suspended the program’s work requirements.
The welfare reform of 1996 requires that after three months on food stamps, recipients be engaged in some kind of work activity for at least 20 hours a week. Tucked away in the mammoth 2009 so-called “stimulus” spending bill was the suspension of this requirement for able-bodied adults with no children.
The result has been that between 2008 and 2010, the number of these able-bodied adults on food stamps doubled—from 1.9 million to 3.9 million, according to CRS. (Total participation is now at roughly 47 million, or one in seven Americans.)
This work requirement suspension expired September 30, 2010. But Obama’s “next two budgets then requested that the suspension be extended each year,” explains Bradley. “However, he did not wait for Congress to act on these requests; instead his Department of Agriculture issued waivers to 44 states and the District of Columbia freeing them from implementing the food stamp work requirement.”
Although the weak economic situation would have likely resulted in increased food stamp participation, the Washington Examiner notes that the “doubling of the use of food stamps by the able-bodied population without dependents exceeded the 43 percent increase in food stamp usage among the broader population over the same 2008 to 2010 time frame.”
The CRS reports comes in the midst of the Obama Administration’s latest attempt to waive work requirements from the largest cash assistance welfare program: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), created under the 1996 welfare reform law. The reform successfully helped move welfare recipients off of the rolls and into jobs and cut the welfare caseload by half within five years. Now, the Obama Administration is trying to gut the heart of this program by claiming that it can waive the work requirement.
The Obama Administration is lengthening its track record of policies that promote government dependence. As a result, taxpayers will be on the line to fund more government assistance for able-bodied adults.
Today, the federal government spends nearly $1 trillion a year on approximately 80 different federal welfare programs. If President Obama has his way, spending will only continue to increase despite welfare already being the fastest-growing part of government spending.
Instead of pushing for more Americans onto the government dole, welfare programs should be founded on the principles of personal responsibility and work. Work requirements in food stamps and TANF should be restored and strengthened and should be expanded to other government welfare programs.
Requiring able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work not only is fair to taxpayers but also ensures that those receiving aid are being assisted to achieve self-reliance and independence.