Foodstamps–How Issues are Manipulated


So the house has chopped (supposedly) $40,000,000 out of foodstamps or SNAP over  the  next ten years.  It’s not a huge reduction compared to the budget of the program ($462,000,000 over the last ten years, likely more in the next ten). 

Nonetheless, is this good  policy, and why did it come about?

Apparently the Surfer Dude is the main reason.  Fox this summer ran a special on the expansion of the food stamp program.  The star was Jason the lay about who tells you unapologetically he’s living off your  tax dollars.

But is this guy really the face of foodstamps

This is a sad story for all kinds of reasons.

IS THIS CASE A FLUKE?

I found it harder than I expected to get  data on who is on the foodstamp program, so I don’t have a lot hard data on who is getting assistance.  This Fox story  however, is just about  ONE GUY.  Why do people  assume this typical?

IS THIS OUR BIGGEST  CONCERN ABOUT FOOD STAMPS?

Even if this case is maddening, is that  what we should be concerned about?  I think it as big  a problem when people who don’t get  the help as when someone like the surfer dude has his laziness subsidized – worse in fact.

SOME  OF THE FACTS IN THE STORY DIDN’T APPEAR TO  ADD UP

The Surfer Dude  claims  to be on the program year round with out working.  This is not, at least, in many or most jurisdictions the case.  Here’s the eligibility requirements found here for SNAP:

Generally ABAWDS between 18 and 50 who do not have any dependent children can get SNAP benefits only for 3 months in a 36-month period if they do not work or participate in a workfare or employment and training program other than job search. This requirement is waived in some locations. 

With some exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 must register for work, accept suitable employment, and take part in an employment and training program to which they are referred by the local office. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in disqualification from the Program.

The Fox  story may be more of a comment on California requirements (or the lack thereof than anything else).

WHAT ELSE IS  GOING ON?

The underlying narrative in the story is also, that again here’s Obama the welfare president.  In fact though, SNAP has  been growing for quite some time:

image

most of the last ten years, much of that  growth  coming during the 2001 and 2008-2009 recessions.  It’s certainly not clear to me that Obama is the food stand president, but here’s a contrasting view.

WHAT WILL BE EFFECT OF THIS CUT IN BENEFITS?

I’m not clear on what exactly what has been done to ‘cut’ food stamps spending.  The program is  basically an entitlement – that is it a benefit people may claim  subject to meeting eligibility criteria.  The cost is  not a budget but depend on  how many  claim.  My assumption is that the top level income required to qualify  has been reduced, and maybe eligibility for employed people has been  reduced.

We don’t know how people  will react to the changed  criteria.  If one can no  longer work without losing their  benefits, then might they  not decide not to work?   We don’t know how  that will affect costs of the program, see this previous post.

IS THIS  THE  WELFARE  WE SHOULD  BE CUTTING?

How  can the same house  pass farm subsidies, and then cut benefits (even  if  not always deserved) to people will far less money  than agribusiness that benefits from the  farm bill?

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