SNAP program needs a diet
The time has come to rein in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program commonly known as food stamps. We are in the fifth year of a tepid economic recovery yet participants in the food stamp program continue to grow. Taxpayers are now picking up the grocery tab for 47.7 million recipients or one in seven Americans. That tab has ballooned to $83 billion.
Several policies caused the program to get out of control. Since 2009 adult recipients who are able to work, no longer need to work at least 20 hours a week to qualify. Before 2009 employable adults could get three months of food stamps. Now it's three years at a cost of $10,000 annually for a family, or a $30,000 handout over three years. The suspension of the work requirement has also led to an explosion of college students on food stamps.
In addition to waiving the work requirement, another 1.8 million recipients automatically became "categorically eligible." Even though recipients have assets, like homes, bank account balances and cars, well above food stamp limits, recipients can automatically qualify for food stamps. Categories that automatically qualify recipients include home heating subsidies, low-income assistance programs and Supplemental Security Income benefits.
The good news is a House bill was recently passed to put the program on a diet by spending about 5 percent or $4 billion less annually over the next 20 years. The crux of the bill would allow states to begin restoring work requirements to qualify for food stamps. The bill also would discontinue spending $40 million a year promoting enrollment in the program.
This is one bill all taxpayers should support. Let your senators as well as the president know early passage and enactment of this food stamp reform bill is a good first step to help control deficit spending.