There’s no denying that Barack Obama was the “food stamps president” because the numbers prove it. In 2009, 33,490,000 people received food stamp benefits, but by October 2016, 44,219,123 people received the same assistance, an increase of about 10,729,000. That’s an increase far out of proportion from what we’d normally expect with natural population increase, and it’s a problem that persisted, even as the economy recovered from the financial crisis of 2008. Thanks to a loosening on restrictions for the program, the cost of food stamps for taxpayers rose from $50.3 billion to $66.6 billion.
During President Donald Trump’s first year of office, a fifth of that increase has already been erased. According to Fox News, “data released by the Department of Agriculture show that the number of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, dropped to 42,182,443 for fiscal 2017 – a decline of 2,036,920 from the fiscal 2016 total of 44,219,363.”
Of course, as is the case with every government program ever, the long-term trajectory of costs has gone in one direction: up.
The program has gone from costing taxpayers about $250 million for about 2.8 million recipients in 1969 under President Richard Nixon, to a peak of costing nearly $80 billion for nearly 48 million recipients in 2013 under President Barack Obama. In other words, that’s a 31,900% increase in costs over that time period – far out of proportion with population growth as a whole.
More from the Fox report:
The 2017 figure of 42.1 million people assisted is the lowest figure since 2010, when the program assisted 40.3 million people at a cost to taxpayers of $68.2 billion.
President Trump has signaled that he wants to tighten eligibility rules for SNAP and have states contribute matching funds for the program – as ways of continuing to reduce the number of recipients, Governing.com reported.
The federal government is also reviewing some rules being considered on the state level for possible inclusion in federal policy, the website reported.
As previously mentioned, a good deal of the blame for the explosion in usage under Obama can be attributed to lax requirements for usage. Clinton-era welfare reform was effectively repealed by Barack Obama’s Agriculture Department, which removed the work requirement for food stamps during the financial crisis. It was a move that made perfect sense at that particular time (after all, what jobs were there to look for anyway?), but it wasn’t supposed to be a permanent one.
Since then, it’s been up to the states to re-implement their “workfare” requirements, and states that have quickly saw financial benefits to both their taxpayers and the now-former recipients themselves. The cuts in the number of able-bodied adults in food stamps have been drastic: -85% in Alabama, -58% in Georgia, -75% in Maine, among others.
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Reducing numbers like that nationally couldn’t be simpler: simply re-institute the same federal work requirement to receive food stamps that was in place less than a decade ago.
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