Less than ten years ago, 26 million Americans were receiving assistance to buy groceries – enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
Today, after eight years of the Obama economy and the ever-expanding welfare policies, that number has exploded to 44 million who need help every month to put food on the table.
For many families, that is in addition to free breakfast and free lunch programs at public schools.
And yet, critics of President Trump’s proposed budget that would shift to a “welfare to work” policy that could move as many as six million Americans from dependency to self-sufficiency.
White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney appeared before Congress to discuss the president’s first budget and defended the proposal that Democrats call “cruel.”
“Growth cures so many ills, he said. “If you’re on food stamps and able-bodied, we need you to go to work.”
Although critics claim the economy is already operating at “full employment capacity,”Mulvaney says figures indicate that businesses should be able to take on in excess of an additional six million employees in the Trump economy.
Many states, like Colorado, have had similar programs in place for several years that would provide a prototype for the federal government, which funds the state-run SNAP benefits.
Georgia implemented a work requirement for residents receiving SNAP benefits beginning January 1, 2016, in just 3 of its 159 counties, expanding the pilot program to 21 counties.
Those who received the benefits were required to work at least 20 hours a week or be enrolled in state-approved job training or volunteering at a non-profit or charity.
Those who were unable to work because of a disability and the elderly were, of course, exempt, but the results in a mere 16-months are startling.
More than half, a shocking 62 percent of SNAP recipients in those counties, 7,251 dropped out of the food stamp program.
In what may be a smart move, the Trump budget proposal would take a page from successful state programs and apply it on a national basis to help many of the 44 million food stamp recipients find productive work that could move them to independence – while saving the government money.
What seems like a win-win will be characterized by opposition in Congress as proof that Republicans do not care about the poor and the minorities who make up the vast majority of those who rely on assistance for the barest of necessities.
Congress will again take up consider the budget when members return after the long Memorial Day weekend.