Teaching A Work Ethic

America‘s welfare programs have lost their way. They have become a bureaucracy that leaves people in poverty instead of helping them achieve success. There is no incentive for either the recipient of welfare or the welfare administrator to help the recipient end their dependency on the government. The welfare recipient is supported by a check from the government, the welfare administrator is supported in her job by the necessity of overseeing the distribution of that check. That is a simplification, but essentially the recipient and the administrator are mutually dependent upon each other. Neither has an incentive to change the system. However, because welfare is one of the budget busters in federal spending, the system needs to change.

On Tuesday, The Daily Signal posted an article offering a proven solution to helping people escape government dependency.

The article reports:

Most Americans believe able-bodied adults receiving welfare should be required to at least seriously look for work.

A new piece of legislation in the House promises to advance that majority view in federal law.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., recently introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996), which would provide a much-needed reform to the food stamp program (SNAP). The bill would strengthen work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependent children.

H.R. 2996 would establish the principle that welfare assistance should not be a one-way handout. Assistance should definitely be given to those in need, but recipients should be required in exchange to take steps to support themselves.

The article reminds us that SNAP already has work requirements for adults without dependent children, but there is a way for counties to obtain waivers to opt out of the work requirement. In this bill, those waivers would be eliminated.

The article cites what happened in Maine when work requirements were added to welfare programs:

For example, in July 2014, Maine announced that it would no longer grant waivers from the work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependent children.

In order to receive benefits, they would thus have to work, participate in a work program for 20 hours per week, or do community service for about six hours per week.

It is important to note that this policy did not arbitrarily cut food stamp recipients from the program rolls. Able-bodied adults without dependent children in Maine were removed from the rolls only if they refused to participate in modest activities.

In fact, most of these individuals in Maine chose to leave the program rather than participate in training or community service, despite the strong outreach efforts of government caseworkers. This indicates that these individuals had other means of supporting themselves.

As a result of the new policy, the Maine caseload for able-bodied adults without dependent children dropped 80 percent in just a few months, falling from 13,332 in December 2014 to 2,678 recipients in March 2015.

The article states:

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 establishes a federal work requirement for this same category of individuals, similar to the one established in Maine.

If enacted, this policy would save taxpayers around $90 billion over the next 10 years, or roughly 13 percent of the program’s 2018-2027 projected spending.

No one wants to deny help to those who need it, but we have reached the point where there are two many Americans riding in the wagon and too few Americans pulling it. A work requirement is one way to slash the SNAP program by 13 percent and still provide help to those people who need it.

The Shell Game Being Played In Washington With Taxpayer Dollars

The Daily Signal posted an article yesterday about the agricultural spending portion of the federal budget. Part of the problem in curbing agricultural spending is the fact that the food stamp program is included in the agricultural budget. Thus when cuts can be made to the food stamp program because of an improving economy, agricultural subsidies can be increased without appearing to spend more money. The first step in solving this problem would be to separate the food stamp program from the agricultural program. This would provide more honest numbers showing the cost of these programs. However, there are also some other problem areas.

The article reports:

  • The safety net for agricultural producers (commodity/disaster assistance and crop insurance) is projected to cost $1 billion more than originally projected over the course of the five years of the farm bill.
  • The two massive new commodity programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, are projected to cost about $13 billion more than was originally projected ($31 billion compared to $18 billion over the first five years of the programs).
  • The 2014 farm bill, when it passed, was projected to cost an astonishing $352 billion more than the 2008 farm bill ($956 billion compared to $604 billion). Almost all of this was due to a massive increase in food stamp costs.

The article further reports:

In 2001, spending on the food stamp program was roughly $19 billion. These costs doubled to $39 billion in 2008 and, by 2013, doubled again to reach a peak of almost $83 billion.

Although food stamp costs have come down a little since 2013 (they cost $73 billion in 2016), food stamp spending was still close to double what it was in 2008.

The latest projections show the four largest titles of the farm bill (about 99 percent of the farm bill costs) will save more than what was originally projected for the five-year farm bill, but almost all of that is connected to food stamps ($27.3 billion of the $30.8 billion in savings).

These food stamp savings have generally been attributed to a better economy, not the 2014 farm bill.

Now that there has been a minor reduction in the still-massive amount of food stamp spending (it is still near record highs), some legislators want to use those “savings” to provide cover for keeping or even expanding farm handouts.

The American taxpayer can no longer afford to be an insurance provider to farmers. This is another place where the government needs to get out of the way and let the free market take over. It is time for Washington to balance the needs of the taxpayers against the runaway spending of Congress. We are dangerously close to the point where there are so many people riding in the wagon that those not in the wagon do not have the strength to pull it.

 

A Good Idea Whose Time Has Come

On Friday, CNS News posted a story about one area of President Trump’s proposed budget–the area of food stamps.

Here are some numbers from The Gateway Pundit in 2015:

Under Obama the poverty rate has stood at greater than 15% for three consecutive years (2010-12), the first time that has happened since the mid-1960’s.  A record number of people have been on Medicaid (72 million or 1 out of 4 Americans) and Medicare (more than 47 million Americans) during Obama’s presidency.  When Obama entered office in 2009, 31.9 million individuals received food stamp benefits. As of January 2015, 46 million people received food stamps for a 44% increase in food stamp usage since Obama took over and record numbers.  Food stamp users had topped 46 million for 38 straight months as of January 2015.  (People don’t reach out for food stamps when good paying jobs are plentiful.) Due in part to the increase in food stamps, Welfare spending  (not counting social security) reached nearly $1 trillion in 2013.

Obviously change is needed. The article at CNS News details some of the suggested changes:

In reality, the president’s proposed policy is based on two principles: requiring able-bodied adult recipients to work or prepare for work in exchange for benefits, and restoring minimal fiscal responsibility to state governments for the welfare programs they operate.

The president’s budget reasserts the basic concept that welfare should not be a one-way handout. Welfare should, instead, be based on reciprocal obligations between recipients and taxpayers.

Government should definitely support those who need assistance, but should expect recipients to engage in constructive activity in exchange for that assistance.

Work Requirements

Under the Trump reform, recipients who cannot immediately find a job would be expected to engage in “work activation,” including supervised job searching, training, and community service.

This idea of a quid pro quo between welfare recipients and society has nearly universal support among the public.

Nearly 90 percent of the public agree that “able-bodied adults that receive cash, food, housing, and medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving those government benefits.”

It is time for those sitting in the economic wagon being pulled by working people to get out of the wagon and help pull.

The article reminds us that when Maine placed a work requirement on food stamp recipients, the number of people collecting food stamps dropped sharply. I believe Americans are basically generous people who want to help the less fortunate, but I also believe that Americans do not like being taken advantage of.

The article reports what happened in Maine:

In December 2014, Maine imposed a work requirement on this category of recipients. Under the policy, no recipient had his benefits simply cut. Instead, recipients were required to undertake state-provided training or to work in community service six hours per week.

Nearly all affected recipients chose to leave the program rather than participate in training or community service. As a result, the Maine caseload of able-bodied adults without dependent children dropped 80 percent in just a few months.

We need to learn from Maine’s experience.

This Makes No Sense

When President Johnson began the “War on Poverty,” the idea was to help people get out of poverty and become working members of society. President Johnson wanted to make sure that in a land as rich as America, people did not go hungry or homeless. It was (and is) a laudable goal. It becomes a more difficult goal when it encounters the specter of human nature.

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today on one of the programs that was set up to make sure no Americans would go hungry.

The article reports:

The number of individuals receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, has exceeded 45 million for 56 straight months, according to data released by the Department of Agriculture.

…The USDA has been tracking data on participation in the program since 1969, when average participation stood at 2,878,000. Since then, participation in the program has increased by more than 1,470 percent.

The number of food stamp recipients first exceeded 45 million in May 2011. Since then, the number has consistently exceeded 45 million, hitting a record high of nearly 47.8 million in December 2012.

Changes to food stamp policies made it easier for people to apply for benefits, made food stamps available to more people and the benefits became more generous, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Economic factors alone do not fully explain the growth in SNAP participation,” states the agency. “Changes in SNAP policies, some of them associated with the 2002 and 2008 Farm Acts, have made benefits easier to apply for, available to more people, and more generous.”

There is a lesson here. The SNAP program was started with the best of intentions, but what it did was take charity out of the hands of the local church and the local community. The local church and the local community were in a position to know who actually needed help and who was taking advantage of the system. I have heard many stories from people who remember a time when their spouse was out of work and they found a bag of groceries on their front steps to get them through. Charity needs to return to a time when it was the result of personal caring. The obvious question here is how much of the SNAP money goes to food. We have all heard stories of people selling their SNAP coupons or EBT cards and spending the money on alcohol or drugs. We are not doing anyone a favor by supporting a destructive habit.

In April 2015 I reported the following:

A Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesman tells the Associated Press that 12,000 non-disabled adults were in Maine’s SNAP program before Jan. 1 – a number that dropped to 2,680 by the end of March.

More than 9,000 Maine residents have been removed from the state’s food stamp program since Republican Gov. Paul LePage‘s administration began enforcing work and volunteer requirements.

I can’t image the impact it would have on the federal budget if all states followed the example of making people work a few hours a month in order to receive food stamps. The problem is that federal money makes people dependent, and dependency determines how people vote. Politicians who want to stay in office will work to make sure that the freebies keep on coming. Politicians who love America will begin to move to cut spending.

Making Welfare Work

The budget for food stamps and other public welfare programs has gotten totally out of hand both at the state and the federal level. There are many people who have learned how to take advantage of the welfare system over the years, and the problem has been how to separate those who truly need assistance from those who don’t. Well, it seems as if the State of Maine has found at least a partial answer to the problem.

CNS News reported the following yesterday:

A Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesman tells the Associated Press that 12,000 non-disabled adults were in Maine’s SNAP program before Jan. 1 – a number that dropped to 2,680 by the end of March.

More than 9,000 Maine residents have been removed from the state’s food stamp program since Republican Gov. Paul LePage‘s administration began enforcing work and volunteer requirements.

The article further reports:

State Rep. Scott Hamann (D –South Portland) has introduced a bill that would direct the administration to seek a waiver for certain counties with high unemployment or a lack of jobs.

The measure may not gain support from LePage’s administration. HHS spokesperson David Sorensen says, recipients only need to volunteer for 24 hours a month to comply with the requirements and the administration believes there are enough opportunities even in the most economically depressed regions.

No one wants to deny food to the needy, but the time has come to realize that there are people who are taking advantage of the various welfare programs available. The government really does not help anyone by giving them food without requiring them to work (unless that person is truly disabled in some way). The action that Governor LePage has taken will encourage the work ethic that has been lost in America since the Great Society laws were passed by Congress.

 

Why We Need Welfare Reform

Michigan is taking steps to reform its welfare program–on Friday the state announced its plan to drug test welfare recipients. Yesterday Breitbart.com posted a story showing how much the food stamps program is impacting the state.

The article reports:

Michigan, which announced on Friday plans to begin drug testing some welfare recipients, currently has 1,679,421 individuals on food stamps (known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the state’s total pupil count for K-12 is 1,564,114.

Michigan’s food stamp program has struggled to combat fraud and abuse. As recently as last week, for example, three brothers pleaded guilty for their roles in a food stamp fraud scheme at the Middle Eastern Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that cost taxpayers $1,278,700.

This year, Michigan’s food stamp program cost taxpayers $2,576,165,148.

It is becoming very obvious that one way to stop runaway spending on both the federal and state level is to combat welfare fraud.

Why We Need Informed Voters

A representative republic (like America) needs informed voters in order to stay free. There is a real question in my mind as to whether or not we have those voters right now. President Obama is in campaign mode right now–that seems to be his default mode–and some of the things he is saying are so untrue that they are almost comical.

The American Spectator posted an article on Friday about President Obama’s recent comments on the economy.

The article quoted the President:

“By almost every measure,” he declared, “the American economy and the American workers are better off than when I took office.”

That may be what he believes, but the facts tell a different story.

The article reports some of the statistics:

…the Census Bureau reports that median household income in the United States, adjusted for inflation, is down by more than $2,000 since Obama’s first inauguration in January 2009.

…a sixth of the U.S. population is currently receiving food stamps, an increase in the participation rate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program of 61 percent since 2008.

Rep. Kevin Brady, (R-TX), chairman of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, summarized the U.S. economy’s subpar recovery several months ago, in May: “Our economy has a real GDP growth gap of $1.5 trillion in this recovery compared with the average of other post-1960 recoveries. And that has left us with a private-sector jobs gap from the end of the recession of 5.7 million jobs.”

…August 25 report in Forbes by economist John Goodman documented via Federal Reserve surveys that Obamacare is a key reason for the nation’s persevering joblessness and declining levels of inflation-adjusted household income.

…Based on its August 2014 survey of manufacturers, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported that 18.2 percent of employers said they cut workers because of the Affordable Care Act versus 3 percent who hired more.

Similarly, 18.2 percent of employers said their proportion of part-time workers is higher because of Obamacare versus 1.5 percent who said it was lower.

President Obama is not responsible for the recession. However, his economic policies are responsible for the fact that the recession is still with us. Five years into the Reagan Administration, the country was rapidly climbing out of the Jimmy Carter ‘malaise.’ The voters chose to elect President Obama a second time and to send Democrats to the Senate. We can’t undo the Presidential election for another two years, but we can undo the Democrat control of the Senate and begin to put our country on the right economic path. It’s up to the voters to get out and vote and to change control of the Senate. We need people who understand economics who will block the crony capitalism and runaway spending that has been Washington’s way of doing things recently.

This Is No Way To Fund Pet Projects

Yesterday The New York Post reported that money will be taken out of the food stamp program to fund Michelle Obama’s pet project, Let’s Move.

The article reports:

On Nov. 1, sizable cuts were gouged into the federal food-stamp program (or, as it’s now called, SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which feeds 47.6 million people, or nearly one in six Americans. In the city, 1.9 million folks get the bulk of their Jell-O and Campbell’s Soup from stamps.

But news has spread among the poor, like leafy green vegetables, that it wasn’t heartless Republicans who triggered the cuts.

Rather, some of the food-stamp cash was snatched to pay for Michelle Obama’s pet project, Let’s Move. What?

It’s come to this. Some 76 million meals a year will vanish from this city — poof! — partly because the president diverted money from SNAP to the first lady’s signature program, part of her Let’s Move anti-obesity initiative — the bean-sprout-heavy, $4.5 billion Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

This project will not create healthy, hunger-free kids. Instead it will create more hungry kids. Another problem with the Let’s Move project is that the school children don’t like Michelle Obama’s healthy lunches. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to mix healthy lunches with things children like to eat for a successful program. However, in no way is it appropriate to take money away from a program that provides children with meals at home that they will eat and invest that money into lunches they will not eat at school.

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Some Perspective Posted On Facebook

Photo

See the National Center For Public Policy Research for further information.

The article reports:

You’re also probably not hearing that the taxpayers are spending about $80 billion annually for food stamps.

Or that food stamp spending increased under Obama from $39 billion in 2008 to $85 billion in 2012, and it doubled during the George W. Bush Administration, as reported by Katherine Rosario of the Heritage Foundation.

Or that the massive food stamp spending increases since 2008 occurred during a period of massive unemployment and underemployment. As the economy recovers — surely it will over the next ten years, President Obama? — the need for food stamp spending should go down.

Or that, as Robert Rector and Amy Payne of Heritage have written, “If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States,” so the amount of money we’re spending isn’t really the issue, it’s how we’re spending it.

Do your homework–check the stories the media is reporting.

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Is There Really An Economic Recovery?

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article on our current financial recovery from the financial crisis of 2008.

The article reports:

Less than half of Americans’ per-capita wealth that was lost in the government-boosted property bubble has been recovered by mid-2013, says a new White House report that is intended to help President Barack Obama trumpet his economic accomplishments.

Adjusted for inflation and population growth, only 45 percent of wealth lost during the recession has been recovered, and many of the hardest hit households did not benefit as much from the rebound in [Wall Street] financial assets prices,” the report admits.

I suspect that part of the fact that the lost wealth has not been recovered is due to the fact that a good deal of that wealth was in the housing bubble. You can easily make the case that it was not real wealth–it was part of a bubble. However, the jobs numbers are real, and they are pathetic.

The article reports:

But Obama’s economic report has so many gaps that it fails to mention today’s unemployment rate, or even the 20 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed.

The report does declare that “over the past three and a half years, our businesses have created seven and a half million new jobs.” But the population also has grown 7 million, from 306.8 million in 2009, to 314 million in 2012, partly through the arrival of roughly 5 million immigrants.

…The report doesn’t mention the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, even though enrollment in the program has dramatically increased over Obama’s tenure, from 28 million recipients in 2008 to 47.7 million recipients in June 2013.

The labor force participation rate currently stands at 63.2 percent according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In a very odd twist of fate, the people who voted for President Obama are also the ones hit hardest by the recession and so-called recovery. In view of their own economic survival, I strongly suggest that the low-information voters become informed voters before they vote again.

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What Are Our Welfare Programs Encouraging?

On Friday, Fox News posted the following video (also in YouTube):

So how is it possible to live on the generosity of the American taxpayer with no concept of working for a living? In September 2012, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air noted the impact of the 2009 Stimulus Bill on the Food Stamp Program. Included in the Stimulus Bill were changes in the welfare program that waived the work requirement and made it easier for people with no intention of working to collect benefits.

The article at Hot Air reports:

In addition to the broader work requirement that has become a contentious issue in the presidential race, the 1996 welfare reform law included a separate rule encouraging able-bodied adults without dependents to work by limiting the amount of time they could receive food stamps. President Obama suspended that rule when he signed his economic stimulus legislation into law, and the number of these adults on food stamps doubled, from 1.9 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2010, according to the CRS report, issued in the form of a memo to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

“This report once again confirms that President Obama has severely gutted the welfare work requirements that Americans have overwhelmingly supported since President Clinton signed them into law,” Cantor said in an emailed statement. “It’s time to reinstate these common-sense measures, and focus on creating job growth for those in need.”

This is the law that allows a beach bum in California to surf his life away and eat lobster on the money paid in taxes by families struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

I think it’s time for Congress to grow a backbone and change the law back to what it was. That alone will save millions of dollars in federal spending.

 

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The Spending Game

One of the tricks the government uses to avoid having its budget trimmed is to make sure that when cuts are called for they are very visible and very painful. Local school departments will threaten sports programs or art and music programs. It’s a game that has been played forever.

The thing to remember about the sequester is that even with the sequester, federal spending this year will be more than it was last year. The culprit is something called baseline budgeting. The basic concept of baseline budgeting is that the federal budget for the year automatically increases a certain percentage from the federal budget from last year. If the budget does not increase by that percent, the smaller increase is seen as a spending cut–even though the spending has increased. Anytime you hear Congress cry ‘wolf’ about spending cuts, you need to remember that they are not spending cuts–they are small decreases in the rate of growth. Please keep that in mind as you read the following.

On Tuesday, the Military Times reported that the military has closed or cut hours at some outdoor swimming pools and water slides on our military bases.

The article reports:

The pools and water parks are typically open to active-duty personnel, family members, military retirees, Defense Department civilians and their guests. The costs can range from free to just a few dollars. The cutbacks are one tangible way the automatic spending cuts are affecting the broader military community.

“Everybody’s a little bit emotional,” said Michael Martin, a spokesman for Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. “People are a little upset … These decisions are tough. They really are. But in the budgetary climate we’re working in, these are the types of decisions we have to make. It’s unfortunate.”

Martin said the commander for the joint Army and Air Force base had already planned to close the outdoor pool at Fort Eustis in Newport News prior to sequestration, but made the decision to close the outdoor pool at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton following the automatic spending cuts ordered by Congress.

This kind of thing sends me through the roof. Our military works hard, makes unbelievable sacrifices, and is paid little. They don’t deserve to have what little family recreation they have taken away.

In October 2012, the Heritage Foundation listed some of the recent examples of how the government spends money:

  1. “RoboSquirrel.” $325,000 was spent on a robotic squirrel named “RoboSquirrel.” This National Science Foundation grant was used to create a realistic-looking robotic squirrel for the purpose of studying how a rattlesnake would react to it.
  2. Cupcakes. In Washington, D.C., and elsewhere across the country, cupcake shops are trending. The 10 cupcake shop owners who received $2 million in Small Business Administration loan guarantees, however, can only boast so much of their entrepreneurial ingenuity, since taxpayers are backing them up.
  3. Food stamps for alcohol and junk food. Though they were intended to ensure hungry children received healthy meals, taxpayer-funded food stamps were instead spent on fast food at Taco Bell and Burger King; on non-nutritious foods such as candy, ice cream, and soft drinks; and on some 2,000 deceased persons in New York and Massachusetts. Food stamp recipients spent $2 billion on sugary drinks alone. Improper SNAP payments accounted for $2.5 billion in waste, including to one exotic dancer who was making $85,000 per year.
  4. Beer brewing in New Hampshire. Despite Smuttynose brewery’s financial success and popularity, it is still getting a $750,970 Community Development Block Grant to build a new brewery and restaurant facilities.
  5. A covered bridge to nowhere. What list of government waste would be complete without a notorious “bridge to nowhere”? In this case, it’s $520,000 to fix the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge in Green County, Ohio, which was last used in 2003.

Follow the link above to read more. To Congress this is a game. To the American military and the American taxpayer it is not a game.

In March, I posted an article about the Congressional Democrats in Massachusetts. They spent nearly $200,000 in bonuses, pay hikes and new hires in a timeworn tradition of end-of-the-year handouts. Despite their concern about closing the federal deficit, the Massachusetts congressmen increased their payroll by $196,000 in the last three months of 2012.

Let’s cut Congress’ budget and leave the swimming pools for our military and their families. While we are at it, let’s ground Air Force One and open up the White House for tours.

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Why Are We Giving Food Stamps To People Who Are Not American Citizens?

Why are we giving food stamps to people in America who are not American citizens? Wouldn’t that be a good thing for the sequester to cut? Wouldn’t it be cheaper simply to give them an airplane ticket (and an escort onto the airplane) home?

On Sunday the Daily Caller posted an article about food stamps for non-citizens.

The article reports:

After an effort to defund the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food stamp outreach partnership with the Mexican government went down in committee Thursday, Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions continued to press the agency for more information about non-citizen participation in the food stamp program.

The article stated that since 2004 between 3 and 4 percent of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp program is going to non-citizens.

Does anyone really believe that if you were an American living in another country (legal or otherwise), that the country you were living in would give you free food? This is simply another attempt by the government to make everyone in the country more dependent on the government for their existence.

It’s time to remember what America is about–equal opportunity, self reliance, and independence from intrusive government. We cannot financially afford to let the food stamps program continue to grow at its current rate, but more than that, we cannot afford to let the program create a mindset of dependency. There are signs in our national forests telling us not to feed the animals as they will grow lazy and dependent on humans for their food. Do we need a “Do Not Feed The People” sign?

Avoiding Even The Obvious Budget Cuts

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about the proposed Democrat budget plan and its relationship to welfare spending. The Obama Administration has already cut the work requirement in order to collect welfare, now they refusing to support another very obvious cost-cutting measure.

The article reports:

Jeff Sessions offered an amendment that addressed the Obama administration’s outrageous policy of advertising the easy availability of food stamps in foreign countries. This is how Sessions described the amendment:

Contrary to sound policy, the United States is spending money advertising food stamp benefits in foreign consulates. This amendment would prohibit any funds from being spent on this controversial promotion campaign.

Federal law has long prohibited immigration to the U.S. by anyone who is likely to become a public charge. Instead of enforcing this law, the Obama administration has willfully violated it by encouraging immigration to the U.S. by Mexicans and others, precisely because they will become public charges and thereby contribute to the expansion of the welfare system. The administration’s promotion of the food stamp program to foreign nationals is part of this effort.

Why in the world are we advertising American food stamp programs in foreign countries? It seems to me that if we wanted to control immigration (legal or illegal) offering free food or money would not be the way to do it. America needs immigrants, but we need legal immigrants who will contribute to society rather than expect to be supported by hard-working taxpayers.

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Where The Money Goes

The Blaze reported a story today about food stamp use in Texas. Here is the video (also posted at YouTube):

The story is rather simple. A gas station attendant took a payment from someone who used food stamps. The attendant stated that he sees people with large balances on their food stamp accounts (thousands of dollars) who are making large purchases with their food stamps while driving luxury cars.

The article reports:

“One valley man was outraged after finding out how much money some people on government assistance are getting,” reads the report. “Action 4 News uncovers just how many people are on SNAP in the Valley and how much money they are getting.”

The report was helped along by a gas station clerk who had grown tired of seeing customers make enormous purchases with their Lone Star cards. In some cases, he says, people would show up and have a balance of at least $7,000 on their cards.

Our tax dollars at work!

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One Place We Need To Consider Cutting The Budget

I realize that I am about to sound like Scrooge at Christmas, but I really feel this situation is getting out of hand.

From The Weekly Standard:

The article is not clear on how much of that money goes to the recipient and how much supports the bureaucracy; but either way, I think we need to do some re-evaluating of the success of our poverty programs.

There is no incentive for someone in government to help someone on welfare get off of welfare–if there is no one on welfare, the government worker has no program to administer. There is no incentive for the person on welfare to get off of welfare because not working takes less effort than working. Also, in many cases, welfare pays more than working. Thus our welfare programs have become the government equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

The article at The Weekly Standard states:

For fiscal year 2011, CRS identified roughly 80 overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense.

…The diffuse and overlapping nature of federal welfare spending has led to some confusion regarding the scope and nature of benefits. For instance, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has recently received a great deal of attention for adopting the “food stamp diet” in which he spends only $4 a day on food (the median individual benefit) to apparently illustrate the insufficiency of food stamp spending ($80 billion a year) or the impossibility of reductions. The situation Booker presents, however, is not accurate: a low-income individual on food stamps may qualify for $25,000 in various forms of welfare support from the federal government on top of his or her existing income and resources—including access to 15 different food assistance programs. Further, even if one unrealistically assumes that no other welfare benefits are available, the size of the food stamp benefit increases as one’s income decreases, as the benefit is designed as a supplement to existing resources; it is explicitly not intended to be the sole source of funds for purchasing food.

It’s time for a Mulligan on welfare programs. We fought the war on poverty and we lost.

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Where Your Tax Dollars Went…

The Daily Caller posted an article yesterday featuring Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn‘s “Wastebook 2012.”

The highlights:

The annual list of 100 of the most wasteful projects and redundancies includes everything from a $300,000 initiative to market caviar, $516,000 to create a video game simulating a high school prom night, a government funded study to find out if golfers perform better when they imagine a bigger hole, $947,000 spent on studying what food people could eat on Mars, and part of a $325,000 grant spent on a robotic squirrel.

Coburn also points out tax loopholes for professional sports that list themselves as non-profit organizations, pointing out that that status affords the NFL, NHL, and PGA  receive $89.9 million in de facto government subsidies. The report also delves into the mismanagement of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or food stamps — which has resulted in $4.5 billion spent on things like Starbucks, alcohol, guns, and junk food.

After reading this, I wonder if we should be more concerned about taxing the NFL, NHL, and the PGA instead of all this talk about millionaires and billionaires. Guess what, even if all profession sports were taxed more, people would still pay outrageous prices for tickets.
Please follow the link above to the article. Based on this article, any Congressman responsible for these expenditures needs to be given a different job in November. I strongly recommend that those Congressmen should be asked to live in the private sector economy they have created.
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How Much Are We Actually Spending On Food Stamps ?

The chart below was posted yesterday at Power Line Blog:

The chart was posted as part of an article on recent Congressional activity regarding the Food Stamps Program. Power Line reports:

So Senator Jeff Sessions tried to introduce a minimal amount of fiscal discipline into the food stamp program by offering amendments that incorporated two basic reforms: 1) preventing states from waiving federal eligibility requirements for the program, and 2) eliminating the bonuses that the federal government now pays to states that deliberately swell the ranks of food stamp recipients. Given that the federal government pays 100% of the program’s cost, such bonuses create perverse incentives in the states, with predictable consequences. And at least 28 states have no limit whatsoever on the financial assets a household can have, and still qualify for food stamps.

One might think that a government running trillion-dollar-plus annual deficits would take common-sense reforms like those proposed by Senator Sessions to heart, but no: the Democrats voted them down. The prefer the irresponsible, free-spending status quo.

Technically the House of Representatives is supposed to be in charge of spending, but unfortunately, the Senate is so totally out of control, there is no hope for slowing the runaway spending. The Democrats in the Senate have refused to pass a budget for more than 1000 days. It’s time for a new Senate.

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President Obama And Food Stamps

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article about the increase in the number of Americans using food stamps during the past four years. This is the graph:

The problem with with the food stamp program is that there is not enough oversight of the program. As Senator Jeff Sessions has stated:

The agriculture bill we are considering this week…would result in a quadrupling of food stamp funds from their 2001 levels. At a proposed $80 billion a year, food stamps are becoming one of the largest items in our budget….

There is little if any oversight of the program, resulting in the extraordinary waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars. … In some cases, the only thing you need to become food-stamp eligible is have a brochure from the federal government be sent to you in the mail. …

This program is not being run honestly, effectively, or fairly. It is deeply disappointing and extremely telling that the Democrat-led Senate voted down even this modest effort to address the almost shameless mishandling of taxpayer funds. We’re in a fiscal crisis that is already killing jobs, and these bills just increase spending—and destroy confidence—that much more.

We have a corruption problem in our government, and many of our respresentatives in Washington are unwilling to deal with it. Meanwhile, we are cutting our national defense down to a level that is dangerous to our national security. We need to help people who are struggling to make ends meet. I have no problem with that. But we also need to make sure that government programs are not misused or taken advantage of.

The article at Power Line cites just a few of the abuses that have been discovered in the Food Stamp Program. We need to elect a Congress that will have the will to cut waste, fraud, and inefficiency in the Food Stamp program.

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The Federal Government Did Something Right !

Yes, the federal government did something right–they turned down Mayor Bloomberg’s request to bar New York City food stamp recipients from using their food stamps to buy soda and other sugary drinks. I appreciate the compassion that Mayor Bloomberg has for those using food stamps–but these are grown-ups–the government has no business trying to control their diets. This is another example of the government giving someone money (or the equivalent) and then trying to control the person because the money was accepted.

The article reports:

Dr. (Thomas A.) Farley (New York City’s Health Commissioner), who said he was “very upset” by the decision, said that it “ really calls into question how serious the U.S.D.A. is about addressing the nation’s most serious nutritional problem.”

In October, city and state officials proposed a two-year experiment to see if the prohibition would reduce obesity among people who buy their groceries with food stamps. Dr. Farley said that about 57 percent of adults in the city and 40 percent of the children in its public schools were overweight or obese, and that obesity was especially rampant in low-income neighborhoods. Limiting consumption of sodas and other drinks with high sugar content, he argued, could help reverse that trend. 

Just because these people are on food stamps, they shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs to confirm some bureaucrat’s theory on why people are overweight!

The article reports Mayor Bloomberg’s statement regarding the federal decision:

“We think our innovative pilot would have done more to protect people from the crippling effects of preventable illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything else being proposed elsewhere in this country — and at little or no cost to taxpayers,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “We’re disappointed that the federal government didn’t agree, and sorry that families and children may suffer from their unwillingness to explore our proposal. New York City will continue to pursue new and unconventional ways to combat the health problems that hurt New Yorkers and Americans from coast to coast.” 

We need less government–not more!

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