President Trump’s Budget Requires Work for Food Stamps

The Trump administration is taking a bloated Obama-era SNAP food stamp system and tossing it out the window in exchange for a work-for-benefits program designed to save billions in taxpayer-funded cash.  The system promises to end the automatic entitlement of said benefits if you do not adhere to new requirements that seek to diminish welfare fraud and misuse.

The president is proposing the most ambitious welfare reform since the 1990s, focusing on requiring able-bodied adults who don’t have children to work in order to receive food stamps.

The work requirement in the president’s 2018 budget will save a whopping $190 billion over the next ten years, according to the Office of Management and Budget, and is part of a larger plan to reform welfare in America.

His budget director, Mick Mulvaney, made clear at a press conference this week that people need to get a job to be eligible for food stamps going forward, saying: “If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, then we need you to go to work.”

The total cost of the food stamp program, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is now more than $83 billion a year. Almost all of it is funded by the federal government.

And in what may be a shock to most Americans, the government doesn’t know what that money is spent on — what percentage of it is spent on meat, what percent on vegetables, what percent on soda, on candy, on potato chips.

Having been exposed to people who have worked in retail for many years, a prominent in-the-know moment occurred for me when I was introduced into the world of EBT for the first time. When I became aware that certain retail outlets who participate in fully accepting the SNAP assistance program for their customer base, it was a sobering moment to find that the corporation worked specifically toward a first-of-the-month preparatory mindset, specifically geared toward providing all the essentials for food stamp recipients. This mindset ensured that all the most popular items for that crowd was up for display prominently and with bold assertions that EBT cards were happily accepted in that location. What were the items? Just as reported, recipients (like clockwork every single beginning of the month) poured into the stores, overwhelming the already-beefed-up staff in order to (literally) wheel out multiple cartloads of Pepsi, Coke, and Lays products. No joke, this was and still is a fact.

Also quite sobering was the fact that in a neighborhood dominated by food stamp and assistance recipients, the preferred method of paying for marijuana, oxy and methamphetamine were food stamps. I watched as grandmothers made deals with 8 and 10-year-olds for their parents hiding in the house…most terrible and disheartening.

We can draw upon information from the recent past as well in order to delve into this work requirement for benefits. This is the first time this edict has been enforced.

The work requirement mirrors what the state of Maine did, with remarkable results.

There are, technically, state work requirements for food stamps. But the Obama administration granted states waivers during the recession, and most remain in place.

In 2014, Maine decided to drop its waiver request, and require everyone who could work, and who didn’t have children to take care of, to either get a job working at least 20 hours a week, enter a job-training program, or volunteer a minimum of 24 hours a month.

In December of 2014, when the change went into effect, there were 13,332 able-bodied non-elderly people in the state without dependents who were collecting food stamps. By March 2015, this number fell by 80 percent. Only 2,678 of those people decided to comply with the law and get a job, do job training, or volunteer. More than 9,000 people just dropped out of the program, leading some observers to speculate that many of these people had been working off the books for years and using food stamps to pay for food so they could save their money for other things.

Others speculated that government dependence had become so ingrained that the minimum required — volunteering 24 hours a month, equivalent to just one hour a day of work — was too much for them.

It is estimated that there are 4.7 million Americans nationwide receiving food stamps who are able-bodied, not elderly, and do not have dependents. Getting them off the food-stamp rolls would save the country an estimated $8.4 billion every year.

It may be difficult for many to get off the welfare couch and get back to work and it is expected that some will also go the route of applying for disability in order to avoid the requirement to work. That number is expected to be low and it is being thrown around that this, in turn, might also lead to an economic boom the likes that has not been seen since the Reagan years.

Source: LifeZette



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