Lewis Morris / May 31, 2017

Time for a Food Stamp Diet

Trump's budget has Democrats screaming about the end of the safety net, but true compassion requires reform.

President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget suggests some serious changes to welfare in America. Let’s start with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a.k.a. food stamps. His proposal to trim the number of people on food stamps includes requiring able-bodied adults to work or train for work in exchange for benefits. He also wants the states to start taking a larger fiscal role in welfare. Those are common sense suggestions, which naturally have Democrats in an uproar.

The president’s budget proposals have been labeled a “horror” that will gut America’s safety net. That’s not what’s going to happen, but statists reflexively oppose any program that makes people more self-reliant. After all, how can the government control the masses without them being dependent on it for their every need?

Take the first part of Trump’s plan: worker activation. This means that people who apply for food stamps will have to work a regular job, prove they are physically incapable of work, or take part in community service or job training.

This is not an unreasonable stipulation. When Congress enacted welfare reform back in 1996, establishing a work requirement was one of the single biggest reasons the welfare rolls were dramatically reduced. It wasn’t until Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress loosened restrictions for applying for food stamps that welfare numbers started to rise again.

In 2013 and 2014, Kansas and Maine were able to reduce the number of able-bodied adults on food stamps with basic work requirements. In 2016, Georgia did likewise.

Trump’s call for getting the states more involved should also be a no-brainer. The federal government accounts for 75% of the $1.1 trillion in spending on means-tested aid. Almost all the money that the states chip in goes to Medicaid.

Trump’s budget proposal stipulates that the states start picking up 25% of the tab for food stamps as well. Democrats deceitfully claim that this accounts for a 25% cut in food stamps. That’s not the case. All that is taking place here is making sure states have “skin in the game,” as the saying goes.

The states will take whatever money the federal government gives them. In fact, they have a vested interest in having more people on food stamps because that means they get more money from the government.

In some twisted way, many state officials believe more money for food stamps actually helps the economy. Well, there are more people on food stamps than ever before in the history of the program. Is the American economy better for it?

The goal should be to reduce the number of people on food stamps. Obama, by loosening restrictions and making it seem patriotic to be on the government dole, drove the numbers above 46 million people. That’s nearly one in every six Americans on food stamps. That travesty is what he had the audacity to call Hope ‘n’ Change™.

It’s important to have a safety net for people who are not as fortunate. When the food stamp program was first introduced in 1964, it was believed that it and other welfare programs could provide temporary assistance. But Lyndon Johnson’s so-called War on Poverty and Obama’s actions during his presidency ensured not a safety net, but a spider web people could not escape. Ever since the “Great Society,” Democrats have offered a never-ending handout in exchange for votes. So far, their 50-year-old plan has worked perfectly.

Unfortunately for statists, to paraphrase the late Margaret Thatcher, they’ll eventually run out of other people’s money. The end is already near. The disability insurance fund, for which claims have risen three-fold since requirements were relaxed in the 1980s, would have gone dry last year had Congress not raided another fund to keep it solvent. This is but one pot that is nearly empty. If governments at the federal and state level don’t tighten restrictions for receiving food stamps and other aid, then the day will soon come when there won’t be any help for anybody.

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