Guy Benson

Via the Wall Street Journal, 47.6 million Americans are now food stamp recipients

Food-stamp use rose 2.4% in the U.S. in May from a year earlier, with more than 15% of the U.S. population receiving benefits. One of the federal government’s biggest social welfare programs, which expanded when the economy convulsed, isn’t shrinking back alongside the recovery. Food stamp rolls were up 0.2% from the prior month, theU.S. Department of Agriculture reported in data that aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations. Though annual growth continues, the pace has slowed since the depths of the recession. The number of recipients in the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is at 47.6 million, or nearly one in six Americans.

Part of the continued heightened reliance on federal aid is a product of the excruciatingly slow Obama 'recovery,' during which median household income has actually declined (perhaps because of the trend toward part-time work -- which, in turn, has been fueled by Obamacare).  Still, the fact that food stamp usage hasn't receded as the recession has eased is troubling.  A majority of Americans blame the government for this phenomenon, stating that benefits are too easy to come by:

A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows 74 percent think Americans rely too much on the government and not enough on themselves. That includes almost all Republicans (87 percent), most independents (80 percent) and a majority of Democrats (58 percent).  Voters are also more likely to blame the record number of people on food stamps -- more than 46 million -- on it being too easy to get government assistance (53 percent) than the severity of the recession (40 percent)

And that was before the country was introduced to this delightful young man:

Jason is roughly my age.  I work hard, pay my taxes, and provide for myself.  Despite being able-bodied enough to surf and hit on women on a daily basis, he doesn't even try to work by his own admission, presumably doesn't pay taxes, and is provided for by people like me.  He gladly takes our "free money" to snag some sushi and lobster for him and his bros.  Jason's story is galling on some level, but is more sad than anything else.  Taxpayer anger over this abuse shouldn't be primarily directed at Jason -- although people like him should be shamed for their exploitive leechery; it should be directed at the government that enables this sort of behavior.  From the report above:

"Things have changed.  Back in 1996, if you were an able adult like Jason with no family, there were limitations.  You could get food stamps for only three months, every three years.   The exception: If you were working at least a 20 hour work week, or participated in a workfare or training program.  President Obama wiped away those restrictions when he signed his stimulus bill in 2009, and in 2010, Obama used his regulatory powers to extend the suspension of those welfare-to-work requirements."  

This president has actively turned back the clock -- legally and otherwise -- on important welfare reform successes throughout his term in office.  He claims his ideological actions are based on "compassion."  What the State is helping Jason do to himself is not compassionate.  It's poisonous.  Of course there are people who genuinely rely on food stamps and other forms of assistance to feed their children and stay alive.  Welfare programs should be limited to helping the truly needy.  Jason is the new poster child for big government's corrosive pattern abuse and excess.  Unfortunately, the ruling political party in this country is committed to expanding the dysfunction, and cynically demagoguing those who seek to rein it in.

Guy Benson

Guy Benson is's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography