FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Latest Attack on Food Stamps

Once again, Republicans are taking aim at poor people.

What is it this time? Adding a stricter work requirement to receive what used to be known as food stamps. (Today it’s known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

If the Republican House bill goes through, anyone between the ages of 18 and 59 will have to work or participate in a work training program for 20 hours a week in order to receive food stamp benefits.

Frankly, this is both disgusting and counterproductive. Let me explain why.

First of all, among other things, food stamps are an incredible economic stimulus. For every $1 spent on food stamps, the economy gets a $1.79 boost. Every $1 billion spent on food stamps results in creating an additional 8,900 to 17,900 full time jobs.

In other words, cutting food stamps cuts jobs.

Making it harder to get food stamps will, in effect, cut food stamps — and therefore cut jobs.

How so? Well, most people on food stamps who can work already do.

About two out of five food stamp recipients live in households where someone works. They’re the working poor. They work, but don’t make enough money to make ends meet.

What about the rest, who have no income? One in five are disabled, and one quarter are elderly.

For many Americans, there’s a moral obligation to feed the hungry. Period, end of story, no more information needed. If somebody is hungry, feed them. The fact that feeding them creates jobs is just a bonus.

Let’s say you’re a skeptic, though. Who are these lazy people who just won’t work? And why can’t they work?

Turns out we’ve been here before, when we began requiring welfare recipients to have jobs or participate in training programs back in the 1990s. And, lucky for us, sociologists Jane Collins and Victoria Mayer researched the people affected by it and wrote a book about them called Both Hands Tied.

Note that the title is Both Hands Tied and not Lazy People Who Should Get Off Their Duffs and Work.

They found that most of the people on welfare had worked for most of their lives. In almost every single case, they went on welfare because a family member needed care and they had to stay home to do it, or they themselves were ill.

One woman had a severely disabled child that no day care would agree to accept. She had to stay home to care for her child, and therefore wasn’t able to work.

Is that the person you want to deny food stamps? The mother caring for her disabled child?

The job training programs provided weren’t helpful either. They didn’t teach useful skills, and they didn’t lead to people finding long-term work.

I don’t know who’s on food stamps and not working. But since food stamps pay only for food and not for any other needs, odds are everyone who can work already does. It’s not possible to get by otherwise.

I’ve been on food stamps. Trust me, you aren’t living the good life when you have to get them. On the contrary, you must be so poor to even qualify that you’ll do just about anything to work for more income.

Adding a work requirement to food stamps is a mean-spirited and short-sighted move that will harm our economy while exacerbating hunger.

More articles by:

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail