This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 24, 2017:
In its report released last week the USDA reported that SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the old food stamp program – is shrinking, a little. In 2016, 44 million Americans and immigrants (legal and illegal) took advantage of taxpayers’ largess, costing them $71 billion. In 2010, there were 47 million receiving SNAP benefits costing taxpayers closer to $80 billion.
The program, which began in 1969, has virtually exploded, from just 2.9 million beneficiaries that year (costing taxpayers a paltry $250 million) to a peak of 47.6 million in 2013, which cost taxpayers $79.9 billion.
Part of the shrinkage is due to illegal immigrants not applying for benefits for fear that ICE would discover they’re here illegally and round them up and send them back to wherever they came from. Deportations of illegals under Trump are up 38 percent despite the lack of cooperation from sanctuary cities to inform ICE when they’re releasing an illegal.
Part of the shrinkage is due to states applying work requirements in order to obtain benefits. Those are targeted to ABAWDs specifically – able-bodied adults without dependents. In at least three states the imposition of work requirements – usually working at least 20 hours a week at a real job, or participating in training for a real job, or volunteering 24 hours a month at some approved charity – has cut enormously the number of couch-sitters collecting checks they didn’t earn.
Notable is the state of Maine, which saw a drop in the number of ABAWDs once work requirements kicked in. More than 12,000 ABAWDs were receiving benefits in January. They were notified that under the state’s new rules they would only receive another three months of benefits unless they got off their couches and did at least a little something productively.
The work requirements were effective April 1. By the end of March the number of those receiving SNAP benefits dropped to 2,680, a decline of almost 80 percent!
In the sarcastic view of the Patriot Chronicle, even 24 hours a month of volunteering was just too much for many of those previously receiving benefits:
Liberals have sold government dependence so deliberately well that even doing 24 hours of approved volunteer work a month for a capable adult became too much for more than 9,000 people.
It added that there was a side benefit to the reduction of coach-sitters being dropped from Maine’s SNAP program:
The taxpayers who work hard for their paychecks can feel some satisfaction at knowing they won’t have to support as much mediocrity as they used to.
Similar results of installing work requirements to get a check happened in Alabama and Georgia. The decline in Alabama was astonishing. In January 2016 the number of ABAWDs receiving benefits was 49,000. By May of this year when work requirements were reestablished (the Obama administration suspended the state’s work requirements during the recovery from the Great Recession), the number of ABAWDs receiving benefits dropped to 7,483, a drop of 85 percent.
Similarly, Georgia experienced a 62 percent drop in SNAP participants when its April 1 deadline passed. In Georgia, however, the work requirements are being staged in and won’t apply to all of the state’s 159 counties until 2019. Said Georgia Republican state representative Greg Morris: “This is about protecting taxpayer dollars from abuse, [as well as] taking people off the cycle of dependency.” The big drop in numbers, he added, “shows how tax dollars are abused when it comes to entitlements.” Morris can be forgiven for failing to note that it’s not ”taxpayer dollars” that are being abused, but the taxpayers that earned them who are being abused by the federally mandated SNAP.
The explosion in SNAP was due not only to the number of individuals applying for and receiving benefits, but the amount that they received. In 1969, those three million received food stamps worth an average of $8.63 a month. Last year, those 44 million received (now by EFT into their SNAP credit cards) an average of $125.40.
What this reflects is the growing dependency on government (SNAP is just one of dozens of aid programs administered by the USDA and other government agencies) by one out of every eight Americans, but it also removes incentives to do real work, promotes laziness, and violates not only the Constitution but God’s law (see 2 Thessalonians 3:10).
How does one get rid of such a pernicious, anti-freedom program? A good start would be with Trump’s recommendations in his budget that tighter work requirements be applied all across the states. Another would be to repeal the benefits anchor babies receive from SNAP (illegals cannot get SNAP for their children can if they are born here).
The program could be wound down incrementally, just as it has grown incrementally: by cutting the monthly benefit, and upping work requirements. It’s called “weaning off” the government teat.
But this would require a significant cultural about-face, which would only then begin to have its impact felt in Congress. It would also take political action. As Robert Brown noted at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver on Saturday, he got frustrated with the poor voting record of his representative in Congress. So he printed out a copy of his voting record and began handing them out at public meetings where the congressman was holding forth. Brown and a few friends blanketed the state of Montana where he lived and watched the congressman’s record move from 50 to the high 80s within months.
But if these modest changes fail to cut the program significantly, there is, according to economist Gary North, the “great default” coming that will end all such subsidies, giveaways, and programs instantly. Says North, it’s just a matter of time. The debts facing the United States government are so large – much larger than officially reported, says North, by a factor of ten – that government revenues won’t be able even to service them, much less pay them off.
When that day comes, those couch-sitters and others dependent upon the government will suffer a “reality check” large enough to galvanize them into seeking real work at real jobs where they produce real products and services of real value for real customers who voluntarily offer to pay them real money for those goods and services.
The New American: AP: Fewer Illegals Applying for Food Stamps; Fear Deportation
USDA: SNAP usage 1969-2016