The big food stamp ploy

For many Americans, times have been tough since 2008.

Food, one of a human being’s basic necessities, has even been difficult for some to continue to sufficiently obtain.

Recently, mayors have made headlines by forgoing their usual income and instead using money that is given to them by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program the government provides for its citizens to pay for their daily diet.

These same mayors have then — based on the end result of their experiment — sought to draw awareness to the problem of food in the United States, by subtly claiming the agency doesn’t administer enough money to provide for an adequate diet.

As you can imagine, there are multiple problems with the challenge. In the end, it is nothing more than a publicity stunt to not only help manufacture individual political images, but grow the size and responsibilities of government.

SNAP, on its website, explains the Food Stamp Act of 1964 in this way: “A food stamp program to permit low income households to receive ‘a greater share of the Nation’s food abundance.’”

The professional language that served to create the program might even make its premise seem identifiably promising. However, these politicians are missing the point by relying solely on government assistance to pay for food.

Not only are they inadvertently misleading their populace, but also they identified problems that are commonly associated with government welfare entitlement programs.

These federal welfare programs are not meant to be the sole source of income that a family unit uses in order to pay for food. Even the federal agency’s new name — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — serves to make citizens well aware that it is only a helpful nudge and not a reliant, primary entity.

In fact, the requirements a person must meet to become eligible for such financial assistance state the following: “With some exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 must register for work and accept a job, or go to an employment and training program that the SNAP office sends you to.”

So not only are these mayors missing the point of these programs by taking this challenge, but they are leaving out key facts about the same programs and instead using it as a means to draw awareness to a false problem that serve to help them make government bigger.

Understanding why these programs have been put into place and disagreeing with that premise is one thing. Abusing them and manipulating voters into voting for more privileges and needlessly expanding government, however, is un-American.

As columnist Tom Blumer perfectly illustrates, 35 states have abolished the program’s “asset test,” while also raising the program’s “gross income test,” expanding federal entitlement access.

So while these mayors are campaigning based on the supposed injustice of food distribution, states are actually making it easier to acquire benefits and abolishing requirement tests that serve as a check in order to control and administer entitlement spending.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

 

Reach the columnist at spmccaul@asu.edu or follow him at @sean_mccauley.