Advertisement

Farm Bill Misses Crucial Food Stamp Reform

By Emily Moore, The Foundry - July 25, 2012

Emily Moore

July 25, 2012 at 11:30 am

1031491 Commenthttp%3A%2F%2Fblog.heritage.org%2F2012%2F07%2F25%2Ffarm-bill-misses-crucial-food-stamp-reform%2FFarm+Bill+Misses+Crucial+Food+Stamp+Reform2012-07-25+15%3A30%3A09Emily+Moorehttp%3A%2F%2Fblog.heritage.org%2F%3Fp%3D103149

The U.S. Department of Agriculture appears to be on a mission to recruit food stamp participants. Radio advertisements, Spanish telenovelas (soap operas), and reaching across the border to partner with Mexico are some of the highlights of their advertising campaign.

This, along with massive growth in program spending, indicates critical need for reform. While the House Agriculture Committee's recently passed farm bill does take a step to get food stamp spending under control, the proposal misses a very crucial element of reform: work requirements.

While the farm bill may sound like it focuses on farm policy, about 80 percent of the funding for the massive bill goes to food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). SNAP is the fastest growing government welfare program, and today, about one in seven Americans participates in SNAP. However, the food stamps program does basically nothing to encourage work among its recipients.

Work requirements are overwhelmingly supported by the American public. In a recent Rasmussen poll, over 80 percent of those surveyed said that welfare recipients should be required to work. Work requirements are not only popular; they are also effective.

The welfare reforms of 1996 did much to encourage self-reliance and saw much success. Because of the work requirement at the heart of the reform, welfare caseloads shrunk by more than half in just five years after the law's implementation. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 1995, 4.54 million families received what was then known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (renamed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, after the reform). Today, fewer than 2 million families receive benefits from TANF"”a 58 percent decline. Prior to welfare reform, the caseload had never decreased significantly.

Critics of the reform argue that caseload reduction is meaningless if those leaving the rolls remain in poverty. However, in the few years after the reforms, child poverty also declined significantly. For black children, the rates dropped to their lowest levels in U.S. history. The same occurred for single-mother families (who are the primary beneficiaries of TANF), with poverty rates declining from 41.9 percent in 1996 to 33 percent in 2000.

Despite the current recession, the poverty rate for single-mother households is still lower than it was in 1996. This is especially true of black and Hispanic mothers, whose poverty rates have declined more precipitously than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

Regrettably, the work requirements in TANF have been watered down since 1996, and just two weeks ago, the Obama Administration issued a new policy to gut this crucial element of the reform law. Restoring TANF's work requirements and changing the current food stamps program to include solid work requirements for able-bodied recipients would do much to help those in need achieve dependence and solidify self-reliance as a cornerstone of American society.

….but how do you work if you can't find a job?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

Website

Comment

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

Two new reports out yesterday continue to knock down President Obama’s promises about Obamacare: his “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” and the promise to significantly shrink the ranks of the uninsured. According to a new study from consulting firm Deloitte, almost one of out of 10 employers said they are going to drop coverage for their employees because of Obamacare, while another 10 percent said they “remain unsure” about what they are going to do. As the vast majority of Americans have health insurance through their … More

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation

Read Full Article »

Latest On Twitter

Follow Real Clear Politics

Real Clear Politics Video

More RCP Video Highlights »