Democrats' Food-Stamp Foolishness; Government Dependence Is Growing

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Democrats' Food-Stamp Foolishness; Government Dependence Is Growing


Byline: Ed Feulner, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

If that sounds a bit Orwellian, consider the perverse spending increases that the Obama administration has planned for food stamps and an array of other forms of welfare. Why perverse? Because the whole goal of the successful welfare reform of the 1990s was to reduce dependence. The president's budget would do just the opposite.

Mind you, spending on the food-stamp program (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) has been growing rapidly for some time now, from $19.8 billion in 2000 to $84.6 billion in 2011. Under the president's budget, this trend would continue, with nearly $800 billion in food-stamp spending over the next decade.

Note, too, that that's just one program. SNAP - included in the farm bill now up for reauthorization - is part of a much larger welfare system that includes 79 programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and social services to low- and no-income recipients. It all adds up to a lot of money.

According to welfare researcher Robert Rector, the architect of the 1990s reform, such means-tested aid (meaning that it's given to those who have demonstrated a financial need for it) is the fastest growing component of government.

Total federal and state spending on means-tested welfare more than doubled between 2000 and 2011 - from $431 billion to $927 billion. Around one-third of the population now receives some type of means-tested welfare aid. Average cost: $9,000 per recipient.

There's no end in sight. Except that, sooner or later, there has to be. As Margaret Thatcher once quipped of socialism, sooner or later, you run out of other people's money. A day of reckoning can be postponed for a while, but not delayed indefinitely. The president's budget calls for ruinous and unsustainable budget deficits, Mr. Rector says. An important step in reducing future unsustainable federal deficits would be to return total welfare spending to pre-recession levels.

Unless lawmakers get serious about addressing this threat, it won't happen. The national debt is more than $16 trillion - and climbing. …

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