The rise of food-stamp nation

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 at 8:03 am

That the food-stamps program is part of the farm bill (now up for debate in Congress) is itself a scam, an exercise in rural-urban logrolling that gives everyone an interest in seeing the bill pass.

As every level of government works to grow the program, attempts to scale it back are predictably savaged. When Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, advocated reforms to save $20 billion out of a $770 billion budget for food stamps during the next decade, he was portrayed as a Dickensian villain. The New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand accused him of not caring about kids and insisted that food stamps are an engine of economic growth, since every $1 spent on the program allegedly generates $1.71 in economic activity. There’s nothing, apparently, that food stamps can’t do.

Needless to say, there are destitute people who need help. But the goal should be to reduce dependence on food stamps to historic levels after the recession, and restore the asset test, re-establish a work requirement and implement a better system for income verification. When almost 15 percent of Americans are on food stamps, the government should reacquaint itself with two words: “too much.”

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