Record Americans on Food Stamps: A New Normal?

Posted: Oct 28, 2013 5:47 PM
Costs for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program - SNAP, colloquially known as food stamps - have skyrocketed during the Barack Obama presidency. As Christine wrote earlier today, enrollment in food stamps has doubled in the last decade. Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich took to pejoratively referring to President Obama as "the food stamp president" during his failed run for the White House in 2012. Of course, there was a massive financial crisis that preceded President Obama's ascension to the White House that he didn't bear any responsibility for, and a lackluster economic recovery since that he does. The economy has contributed to

Economics 21 has produced a new chart that demonstrates some of the worrying statistics surrounding the program:

What's more, the cost per enrollee has been skyrocketing. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute wrote a policy brief on how SNAP can be responsibly reformed, and charted how the program's costs have exploded in the last few years:

It's more than the recession that has been pushing people onto the rolls of food stamps. Tanner writes that the federal government has been encouraging state governments - who administer SNAP jointly with the federal government - to expand eligibility, as well as embarking in a massive outreach program meant to increase the number of people who are signed up.

Tanner suggests there are five ways to reform the food stamp program - among them, block granting the program and strengthening work requirements, and says [pdf]:

Given the level of welfare spending, we seem to be having little success at getting people out of poverty over the long term, or making them less dependent on government. This lack of success should suggest that we are doing something wrong. That “something” is unlikely to be remedied simply by spending more on food stamps.

Read the whole Tanner report - it is enlightening.

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