Friday, November 09, 2012

Give a Man a Fish…

By: Bryan Baumgart  


In total since January of 2009, a net of 194,000 new jobs have been created while 14.7 million people have joined the food stamp rolls. As The Weekly Standard points out today, “During that time, our nation’s debt has risen $5.63 trillion. Total spending on food stamps is now more than $80 billion annually. Total welfare spending is now approximately $1 trillion, or enough to send every household beneath the federal poverty line an annual check for $60,000.”

Some may not be surprised by this trend; we are after all in the grips of a pretty stagnant economy. The problem however, isn’t the ever increasing number of Americans added to the rolls of food stamps. The problem is that the current administration has put in a much greater effort to increase food stamp rolls than to increase job creation. They have promoted dependence rather than empowerment.

President Obama claims, “We do not pressure any eligible person to accept benefits, nor is our goal to simply increase the number of program participants.” You can imagine how surprised I was then, when I was approached by a friend recently who mentioned that they were currently receiving SNAP themselves. They stated that while applying for college at Education Quest, counselors approached them and suggested they apply for SNAP.  The process was easy enough. They applied, had an interview, and began receiving food stamps immediately. Counselors even coached them on how to be accepted into the program stating, “It helps if you are a full time student working at least 20 hours a week.”

Despite the president’s claims, the focus of the Obama administration remains on increasing enrollment in SNAP. The administration has partnered with Mexico, meeting with Mexican officials over 30 times in an effort to boost participation among immigrants.

The USDA boasts a range of strategies and programs designed to bring more people to SNAP, including taking on “pride.” Awards are provided to local assistance offices for “counteracting” pride and pushing more people to sign up for benefits. A “Common SNAP Myths” sheet details the importance of reaching people who do not think they qualify or have beliefs that conflict with accepting food stamps. A pamphlet currently posted at the USDA website encourages local SNAP offices to throw parties as one way to get potentially eligible seniors to enroll in the program. Despite the high rate of food stamp participation, the USDA has numerous blueprints posted on their website aimed at getting more people to enroll. The USDA even goes so far as to argue that the program is “the most direct stimulus you can get.”

Only 194,000 net jobs have been created under the Obama administration. This pace doesn’t even keep up with the population increase. So few jobs have been created that the employment rate actually decreased due to an increasing number of working age adults have given up even looking for jobs. The real unemployment number (U-6) currently hovers around 14.6 percent.

While on the campaign trail, the president’s slogan has been to, “ask a little more from the wealthy”.  He doesn’t plan to ask though, he plans to take. Allowing the Bush era tax cuts to expire equates to a tax increase on job creators. In the words of Senator Marco Rubio, “I have never met a business owner waiting for the next big tax increase before he will create some jobs.”  Under the president’s current proposals, job creation in the private sector isn’t likely to pick up anytime soon. If these trends continue, we won’t have enough employed Americans to fund SNAP for the needy. If the trends aren’t reversed, America will soon go the way of our European neighbors.

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