No wonder we can’t balance the budget . . . or win elections


Use of Food Stamps Swells Even as Economy Improves

By Damian Paletta and Caroline Porter | March 27, 2013, 10:32 p.m. ET

The financial crisis is over and the recession ended in 2009. But one of the federal government’s biggest social welfare programs, which expanded when the economy convulsed, isn’t shrinking back alongside the recovery.

Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the modern-day food-stamp benefit is known, has soared 70% since 2008 to a record 47.8 million as of December 2012. Congressional budget analysts think participation will rise again this year and dip only slightly in coming years.

The biggest factor behind the upward march of food stamps is a sluggish job market and a rising poverty rate. At the same time, many states have pushed to get more people to apply for SNAP, a program where the federal government picks up the tab.

More at the link.

The article continued to note that the 1996 Welfare Reform Act gave states the authority to ease eligibility requirements, and that trends have allowed people with higher incomes and existing savings to remain eligible for this welfare program.

The new rules were designed to encourage people to take advantage of the program before they became destitute. By expanding the pool of potential applicants, they are redrawing the landscape of government assistance. It is one reason why SNAP appears to have evolved from a program that rose and fell with the unemployment rate to a more permanent feature of the landscape.

What it has also done is to keep on public assistance people who no longer need public assistance, to take a welfare program designed to keep people from going hungry and transform it into a program which subsidizes a necessity for people to enable them to spend more of their money on tings which are not necessities. The article noted one woman who lives near Chicago, employed at $11.00 an hour, who has managed to build up $5,600 in savings while remaining on SNAP. There are many taxpayers helping to subsidize that lady’s $5,600 in savings who don’t have $5,600 in savings themselves, many taxpayers living paycheck to paycheck, paying taxes to enable this woman to put away money. How is that fair?

Last September, we noted an article by Cassy Fiano Chesser:

Why I Passed on WIC

September 15th, 2012

When I had Benjamin, I almost immediately signed up for WIC. It would be helpful, I thought, to save some money for a family living off of one military paycheck. So we signed up and used the vouchers for quite some time. But I always felt somewhat guilty about it.

Why? The benefits were there. We qualified for it. Lord knows we aren’t rich, and there’s no shame in accepting help when you need it. And therein lied the problem for me. There came a point when I couldn’t erase that thought in my head. Do we really need WIC?

Almost everyone I know, every military family, uses WIC. Most of them claim they need it to get by — and I’m not saying they don’t. I don’t know their finances. But I kept feeling like this wasn’t something we couldn’t survive without. We have cable, internet, smart phones, a new car. We went out to eat on a somewhat regular basis, were able to buy ourselves things here and there. And so I eventually made the decision not to be on WIC. I decided that I wasn’t going to take money from the government just because I could — not when it wasn’t truly necessary.

More at the links.

Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) was supposedly stunned that he actually lost the election to President Barack Obama, and your Editor will admit that it boggles his mind that the President could have presided over an economy in such terrible shape, could have run up trillions in debt and run deficits of over a trillion dollars a year, and still be re-elected, but the JOURNAL article points out why. Governor Romney told the truth in his unfortunately-taped 47% remark: the Democrats under President Obama had, in effect, bought off a near majority of the country, with zero taxation — if your taxes are already zero, what good are tax cuts to you? — and welfare program. When someone like Sandra Fluke, a 30 year old student at a very expensive and tony law school, is thanking the government for no-co-pay birth control pills when they are only $9.00 a month at the local Target store, she, and millions like her, have been bought off by the government.

The Democrats have been fighting tooth-and-nail over every single penny cut from federal spending, after having presided over a huge expansion of the federal government. According to the President’s own projections,1 projects total federal spending of over 22% of Gross Domestic Product, for as far into the future as he could project, levels not seen since the end of World War II. And why shouldn’t they: such huge spending increases have bought off enough voters to re-elect an otherwise failed President,2 and there’s no particular reason to believe that such won’t continue to do so, right up until the whole house of cards collapses.

  1. I am using President Obama’s FY2013 budget submittal because his FY2014 budget submittal, which was due in February, still has not been released.
  2. Karen noted the Congressional Budget Office’s recent projections that we will not achieve full employment at any point in the eight years Mr Obama is in the White House.

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