Having already examined the farm subsidy measure of the farm bill in an Illinois Review article published Tuesday, November 26 , it is necessary to bring understanding to the other part of the farm bill, the food stamp measure, which amount to a whopping $750 billion of the trillion dollar farm bill and where waste and fraud are rampant.
Research quickly uncovered six fairly recent noteworthy and eye-opening accounts that tell of a SNAP program (food stamps) badly out-of-control and in desperate need of reform.
- August 13: Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute: Reported how more than 2 million Illinoisans — 16.7% of the state’s population — are on food stamps. These figures represent data taken from the May, 2013, U.S. Department of Agriculture information. Illinois is better at putting residents on food stamps than it is at creating jobs!
- August 15: The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) is soliciting people to receive food stamps in the manner of a drug dealer on a grade school playground, such as: “Psst – hey you! I’ve got something for you… it’s free…come on, try it. You’ll like it!” In many locations outreach programs are taking place. The USDA are effectively hunting people down and talking them into accepting benefits that folks never realized they needed or were qualified to receive.
- August 19: Aren’t food stamps supposed to be for food? A study by the Department of Agriculture indicates how more and more food stamp recipients are using this government benefit for items other than food. Food stamps are also being turned into cash, resulting in tax dollars being spent on alcohol, cigarettes, and a host of other non-food items.
- Sept. 10: “Almost one in six, or 47.5 million, Americans now receive food stamps. Over 13 million more people receive the food subsidies today than when Obama took office. . . Despite spending a whopping $80 billion on food stamps last year, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) argues the program needs more funding. . . Documents obtained by Judicial Watch revealed that the USDA works with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal immigrants.”
- Sept. 17: Households on Food Stamps (SNAP) during the month of June outnumbered all households in the Northeast U.S. — a record 23,116,928 American households. This June figure represented 52% more households on Food Stamps than there were in the average month of the first year President Obama took office.
- Sept. 26: Even as the economy improves, food stamp enrollment continues to hit record highs. In the second-quarter of this year, despite household wealth increasing $1.3 trillion within the same time period, enrollment in the program jumped up by 211,708 people.
Many officials in government, and those who manage feeding program, are paying close attention to the final out come of the farm bill, which could see cuts in the program in addition to the cuts that have already occurred naturally on Nov. 1, when benefits, increased under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (commonly known as the “stimulus package”), and originally meant as a temporary boost, were reduced with the expiration of the 2009 law. A massive 47 million people are enrolled in the $80 billion program.
Food for thought by Dawen Bakst and Rachel Shefield of The Heritage Foundation, which merits serious consideration by House and Senate legislation:
Congress continues to treat agriculture as if it were 1933 instead of 2013. . . Yet every five years when the farm bill is up for renewal, many legislators, including those who claim to be pro-free market and limited government, push a farm bill that is a model of central planning. Agriculture policy continues to emphasize price supports, supply restrictions, import quotas government-subsidized international marketing programs for major corporation, and much more. Quite simply, almost any subsidy that can be dreamed of exists in one form or another in the current farm bill.
Further, food stamps should be reformed to promote self-sufficiency among able-bodied adults. Adults who are able should be required to work, prepare for work, or at least look for work in exchange for receiving food stamp assistance. This principle of reciprocal obligation does not currently exist in the program. Additionally, loopholes that have led to an increase in the food stamp rolls should be closed.
The administration of Ohio Gov. John Kasich rightly believes that able-bodied adults should work for food stamps. Starting on January 1, food stamps will be limited for more than 130,000 adults in all but a few economically depressed area. To qualify for benefits all able-bodied adults without children will be required to spend a least 20 hours a week working, training for a job, etc., unless they live in one of 16 counties exempt because of high unemployment.
With Pat Quinn as governor, there isn’t a ghost of a chance that Illinois would ever echo the reform restrictions imposed by Kasich in Indians on food stamp recipients, of which there are 2 million here in Illinois!
Politically speaking, the political ruse of combining food stamps and agriculture policy into one bill has been successful in passing prior farm bills. Combining the two unrelated entities allowed urban legislators (supporter of food stamps) and rural legislators (supporters of farm programs) to form coalitions to pass farm bills lacking proper scrutiny of their merits.
According to The Heritage Foundation, substantive reform will only occur if the agriculture policy and food stamps are separated into different bills now and in the future, so each bill can be addressed independently. It is not acceptable to raise another bumper crop of agriculture subsidies and to offer food stamps recklessly and often without means testing.
After all, have legislators forgotten that it is taxpayer’s money that is being wasted and spent like there is no tomorrow.