Federal spending on SNAP (food stamps) hit a 7-year low in 2017 as more Americans got off welfare and went back to work.
SNAP spending increased dramatically during Obama’s presidency, climbing from $37.6 billion to $53.6 billion after his first year in office.
Spending peaked in 2013, when the government handed out $79.8 billion to more than 47 million recipients. The number of recipients has since decreased to 42.6 million, with $68 billion spent on the program in FY2017.
According to federal law, a SNAP recipient is eligible to receive benefits for three months during a time period of three years. To continue receiving food stamps after three months, recipients must work or take employment-related classes for at least 80 hours per month.
States were able to waive this rule during the recession that began in the late 2000s, but were forced to reinstate work requirements when the economy started to improve.
“Reinstating work requirements has contributed to the drop in program participation, [but] so has the better economy, since fewer people are in need,” reports Newsweek.
We have seen particularly dramatic results in Alabama, which reinstated work requirements on January 1st, 2017. In just four months, SNAP participation dropped 85% in 13 counties.
This is “a good thing if more people are finding jobs and finding higher wages. It’s a bad thing if people are living in areas where there’s no jobs or they have barriers to work and they’re not able to access nutrition assistance,” says Melissa Boteach, who leads the “Poverty to Prosperity” program run by the left-wing Center for American Progress.
Republican lawmakers are pushing to add more restrictions to the SNAP program.
“There are talented people across our country who aren’t pursuing the full potential of their capabilities, largely because government incentive makes it more profitable in some cases to stay home and collect welfare than to pursue personal growth and responsibility through work,” argues Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA).
In other words, people will be lazy if you let them.
“Government needs to provide a safety net for the vulnerable, but it’s become a lifestyle for some to actively choose government assistance overwork,” adds Graves.
President Trump has made it a priority to get more able-bodied Americans back to work. His administration has already announced multiple initiatives aimed at driving SNAP costs down, and I can’t count how many times he has promised ‘jobs, jobs, and more jobs.’ As announced earlier this month, state agencies will soon have more control over administering food stamps and the USDA is testing a program aimed to reduce food stamp fraud.
Editor’s note: The difference between a safety net and socialism is often blurred. Government programs often lock people in, to the point where is it easier to stay on the program and near impossible to escape.
But this is another indication that the economy is improving, that people who had dropped out of the work force are actually starting to return to employment.