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Increased Use of Food Stamps Belies Recovery

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 3, 2013

The Wall Street Journal reported on a significant increase in Americans use of food stamps. This brings in the question either the government’s reports/claims of the economies overall improvement or abuse of the food stamp benefit program.

According to the government’s figures, the recession officially ended four years ago.  If economic reality matched this claim it is reasonable to expect that the use of food stamps in America should be decreasing.  The opposite is occurring.

The food stamp program is officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The Journal published the following figures relating to the Program:

  • In the past four years the amount of food stamps given out has grown by 70% to nearly 48 million Americans.
  • Unemployment reached its zenith of 10% in late 2009.  Today it supposedly stands at 7.7%.
  • For 2012, approximately $75 billion was spent on food stamp benefits.  This is up from $30 billion in 2007.
  • In 1975, only 8% of Americans received food stamps.  During the next 25 years that level remained relatively constant, never exceeding 11% until 2009 when it spiked to 15%.

While the economic meltdown that began in 2007 played a role in the initial increase usage of food stamps, they have been other issues affecting this growth.  The welfare overhaul law of 1996 allowed states to ease asset and income tests for food stamp recipients.  The Obama administration pushed further on the easement allowing higher income levels as well as recipient savings to occur.  In addition, Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Package extended time eligibility for food stamp benefits.

It is not surprising that as the restrictions on eligibility decreased that the use of food stamps would increase.. The fact that this increase is continuing even during a period of supposed economic improvement indicates that either the economy is not improving as reported or users are taking advantage of the system.  This is but one result of Progressive meddling in society and the economy.  Add to this the abuse occurring in hundreds of other governmental programs and it is no wonder that our federal deficit is out-of-control.

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