Food Stamp Reform is Necessary for the Budget and Compassionate for the Poor
By Danielle DiQuattro
Back in 1996, Congress passed a law adding work requirements to the federal government’s largest cash-welfare program. Although this was a step in the right direction, reforming one program is merely incidental when trillions of dollars have been spent on means-tested welfare programs that have proven to be ineffective in fighting poverty. The need for welfare reform has once again become of imperative importance in the midst of the current budget and tax reform debate.
This year, Congress must be committed to passing a deficit neutral budget. Rather than making the American people pay for government wastefulness through higher taxes, a deficit neutral budget would force the government to cut bloated spending. Rep. Garret Graves’ (R-LA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 is an essential piece for getting entitlement spending under control and balancing the budget. Government spending on SNAP reached $83.1 billion in 2014 alone.
Rep. Graves’ bill requires able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS) receiving food stamps to work or at least actively look for work. Such a reform should be non-controversial, as ninety-percent of Americans are in favor of such a requirement. Similar requirements have successfully reduced the number of ABAWDS enrolled in food stamp programs in Alabama, Kansas, and Maine, the latter seeing a reduction in the number of recipients by 80 percent.
However, welfare reform is not just about spending less money .Moving able-bodied SNAP recipients into the workforce would enable our country to aid the poor more effectively as it would free up resources to help the truly needy – such as children and the disabled.
Work requirements are also beneficial for those to whom the requirement applies. Assistance becomes destructive if the assistance is not designed to transition temporary aid into long term solutions. Work requirements empower ABAWDS to participate in the workforce which opens up the opportunity for upward mobility, something that government programs cannot provide.
As Ronald Reagan wisely observed, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.” Members of the House should co-sponsor Rep. Grave’s bill because welfare reform is crucial to achieve a balanced budget, to prioritize aid to those most in need, and to incentivize welfare recipients towards long term success.