Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stamp Act

Yesterday's WSJ had an editorial on those draconian GOP plans to slash food stamps:

The bill that House Republicans passed Thursday evening would try to reverse these dependency trends. It would reinstate work requirements for employable adults without children and allow states to begin experimenting with work requirements for able-bodied recipients. It would eliminate the roughly $40 million a year that the government spends to convince Americans to enroll in the program.

And it would close the "categorical eligibility" loophole that has put 1.8 million Americans on food stamps who don't qualify, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Categorical eligibility allows individuals to automatically qualify for SNAP if they receive benefits from other low-income assistance programs, such as cash welfare, Supplemental Security Income, or home heating subsidies.

Since these programs often don't have asset requirements, this allows states to give food benefits to those with homes, cars or bank accounts worth well above the limit for food stamps. In a September 2009 memo to state officials, federal food-stamp administrator Jessica Shahin wrote that "We encourage you to continue promoting expanded categorical eligibility as a way to increase SNAP participation."

The House reforms are sensible, but they are far less stringent than the 1996 welfare reform. That law required nearly all employable recipients of cash welfare (including single mothers) to work or get job training. Unlike welfare reform, food stamps would still have no time limit on benefits and families with children wouldn't be affected.

The GOP reforms will save taxpayers about $4 billion a year from the more than $80 billion cost of food stamps. But those savings are secondary to the social value of starting again to replace the lifestyle of government dependency with the self-respect and upward economic mobility that comes from work.

Work? I told you the proposals were draconian.