Food stamp program an economic nightmare, creating culture of dependency after Biden reforms: Study

A think tank put out a report arguing that food stamp work requirements need to be strengthened to reduce waste and abuse.

According to the report by the Economic Policy Innovation Center, the problem is that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 signed into law by President Joe Biden grossly weakened food stamp work requirements.

“On net, the FRA weakened work requirements in the food stamp program,” the report reads. “This will trap more work capable adults in dependence rather than helping them become the self-sufficient members of society they could be.”

“CBO estimates that an average of 78,000 people per month would be added to the welfare rolls during the 2025 to 2030 period as a result of the changes to food stamps. In total, the food stamp provisions in the FRA will increase federal spending on welfare benefits by $2.1 billion between fiscal years 2023 and 2033,” the report continues.

The FRA weakened requirements by allowing able-bodied homeless men/women, able-bodied veterans, and able-bodied adults 24-year-old or younger who were formerly in foster care to temporarily be exempted from work requirements.

But it gets worse.

“The definition of ‘homeless individual’ eligible for the exclusion used in the food stamp law extends beyond what many people would think of as the common understanding of an individual experiencing homelessness,” the report notes. “The definition could even allow an able-bodied person living with relatives to qualify as “homeless.”

Even worse, the USDA even “attempts to classify people who have not yet lost housing as ‘homeless.'”

Overall, of the 13 million able-bodied adults who received food stamps between 2017 and 2019, 62 percent of them didn’t work. But with Biden’s new law, work requirements now apply to fewer than four million Americans.

The solution to all this, according to the Economic Policy Innovation Center, is for food stamp requirements to be drastically strengthened.

Not only would this reduce waste, they argue, but it’d also benefit able-bodied adults by forcing them to do something with themselves.

“Work requires effort that is essential to earned success. This effort inculcates values that are essential for a flourishing and thriving society,” the report notes. “Work requires cooperation and collaboration; it can therefore instill an ethics of integrity, honesty, respect, empathy, and accountability.”

“It increases and amplifies peoples’ engagement with their communities, strengthening local bonds and trust. Collaborative work provides an avenue for innovation to solve problems, encouraging growth and development to improve quality of life for all. As it benefits the larger society, work gives individuals a sense of purpose, allowing them to utilize their unique gifts and talents and achieve their full potential,” the report continues.

The report further notes that, according to a recent American Enterprise Institute study, food stamp recipients who worked were 14 percentage points less likely to be feeling hopelessness or worthlessness.

President Biden used to understand this.

“The culture of welfare must be replaced with the culture of work. The culture of dependence must be replaced with the culture of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility,” he said decades ago while working as a senator.

Yet last year he sang an entirely different tune when pressured by congressional Republicans to tighten welfare/food stamp requirements.

“I’m not going to accept any work requirements that’s going to impact on medical health needs of people,” he said. “I’m not going to accept any work requirements that go much beyond what is already – well, I voted years ago for the work requirements that exist, but it’s possible there could be a few others, but not anything of any consequence.”

The remarks prompted laughter from Republicans:

The irony is that the policies Biden chooses to pursue only hurt welfare/food stamp recipients.

“[W]elfare programs without work requirements for able-bodied adults encourage dependence and reduce employment,” the report notes. “In 2018, the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) found that, ‘a significant body of evidence generally suggests that welfare programs which do not require work reduce employment among adults, with estimates varying widely across programs and specific studies.'”

Conversely, policies that promote work have a positive effect.

“Those who move from welfare to work are able to move from dependence to self-sufficiency and often see their take-home pay exceed what they previously received in welfare benefits,” according to the report.

“When the work requirement is enforced, work-capable adults who refuse to take advantage of resources provided to them by taxpayers are removed from the dole. This ensures that precious taxpayer funds that support true safety net programs are preserved for the genuinely needy.”

Vivek Saxena


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