Recommended listening, "Snap Out Of It,” by the Artic Monkeys:
Mitt Romney claimed in 2007 that, “47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what" because they are "dependent upon government...believe that they are victims... believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.” By ‘dependent’ he probably meant welfare of some sort. Romney was “fact-checked” to the moon by media outlets and think tanks alike for “exaggerating” the data, with many articles and blogs honing in on the income tax claim. The speech ended up being a major public relations issue for his campaign.
Looking back at the coverage of that speech, it seems like Americans, and especially political commentators, were shocked by the breadth of our welfare programs. Maybe because acknowledging the widespread government assistance means that the economy isn’t as healthy as we would like it to be.’
There are varying philosophies of governance and welfare. Some think that the goal of welfare should be to improve quality of life by providing essential support and food, others think that welfare should be more of a “carrot” to lead people to make better financial and lifestyle decisions. This difference in philosophy shows up in the structure and limitations of certain programs.
WIC (Women, infants, children) recipients, for example, can only buy a limited group of goods from the grocery store, carroting them into abiding by government standards of healthy food choices. Work requirements for SNAP are similar, if you don’t work (stick), you don’t get aid (carrot).
SNAP work requirements were suspended during the pandemic, as Cato’s Chris Edwards points out:
“SNAP’s ABAWD [Able-bodied adults without dependents] rules had been suspended during the pandemic but come into force again this year. And even then, the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Corinth notes that numerous states have federal waivers that void some of the program’s work requirements.”
Now that we have fully emerged from the pandemic, Members of Congress are looking to tighten SNAP programs even more. Speaker McCarthy’s Limit, Save, Grow Act proposes returning discretionary spending to FY2022 levels in exchange for raising the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion. Also included in the plan is expanded work requirements for SNAP recipients who do not have children.
In a blog for National Review, Veronique de Rugy concluded that:
“…putting cash in people’s pockets and reducing food insecurity are important. But it matters how you do that. And should the government be involved, we shouldn’t ignore the potential tradeoffs of such policies. The changes in food-stamp eligibility combined with other relief programs that were expanded during the pandemic could reduce the incentives to work for most of the non-elderly population. The changes could also reduce income mobility, with all the known consequences for children. Increased employment among low-income parents, for instance, has driven much of the long-term declines in child poverty.”
SNAP and other welfare programs were created to provide aid for those who need it – a worthy goal . But these programs must also pursue long-term financial stability, health and independence. To aim for less is a disservice to the taxpayer footing the bill and those experiencing financial hardship.
Check out Chris Edwards’ piece below on SNAP!
Work Requirements in SNAP
By Chris Edwards
Federal policymakers will soon run into a hard deadline to increase the government’s legal debt limit. President Biden wants a simple debt‐limit increase with no strings attached, but House Republicans have proposed spending reforms called Limit, Save, Grow to include in a debt‐limit deal.
One GOP reform would strengthen work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also called food stamps. The proposal would affect a small fraction of people on the program and reduce costs only slightly. But restricting hand‐outs to encourage work makes sense because the economy has millions of job openings, as shown in the chart below.
In 2023, about 42 million people will receive food stamps at a cost of $127 billion. Many recipients are exempt from SNAP work requirements, including children, the elderly, and the disabled. About four‐fifths of SNAP households include a child, a senior, or a disabled person. The other one‐fifth consist of adults who generally need to be working, looking for work, or in training to receive ongoing benefits.
There are two sets of work requirements for SNAP recipients. General rules require individuals able to work, age 16–59, and not caring for a child under age 6, to register for work, to accept suitable work, or be in a training program. These rules have numerous exceptions. There are additional rules for able‐bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) age 18–49 to receive benefits for more than three months within any three‐year period.
The Republican proposal would tighten work requirements by raising the top age for the ABAWD group from 49 to 56. Looking at Table 3.2.a here, 3.5 million SNAP households do not include either children, the elderly, or the disabled, and about 2.5 million are in the ABAWD group. That appears to leave about 1 million households or fewer that may be affected by the GOP proposal. The data is for the October 2019 to February 2020 period.
SNAP’s ABAWD rules had been suspended during the pandemic but come into force again this year. And even then, the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Corinth notes that numerous states have federal waivers that void some of the program’s work requirements.
Tightening the SNAP work requirements would generate just a small part of the savings from the Republican plan. But it is important to begin reining in bloated entitlements, and adjusting eligibility to encourage work is a good place to start.
More on SNAP here, here, and here.
This piece was originally published for Cato: https://www.cato.org/blog/work-requirements-snap.
Chris Edwards occupies the Kilts Family Chair in Fiscal Studies at Cato and is the editor of DownsizingGovernment.org. He is a top expert on federal and state tax and budget issues. Before joining Cato, Edwards was a senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, a manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and an economist with the Tax Foundation.
As quoted from above "...economy has millions of job openings, as shown in the chart below."
The economy may have jobs that are open but can people get to them? I spent years supervising low income workers in the retail business and one problem I saw day after day was because of the poor transportation services. The government run urban transit is pathetically poor in many cities I have lived in. The market needs to be opened to allow for innovation, whether it is one person with a pedicab or a fleet of Ford Transit vans it should not be against the law to provide a service, or try to provide a service.
The Democrat plan:keep people weak and dependent so their votes can be bought with handouts. Long term , this is the road to ruin as surely at some point the Golden Goose will die as along with it the wealth-producing productivity of our economy dies too. This will make almost all of us poorer