Sunday, January 22, 2012

Food Stamp Reform Needed

During the 2012 Republican Presidential primary debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina a black panelist asked Mr. Gingrich if he could perhaps see how certain comments he has made in the past might give special offense to black Americans. In response to Mr Williams' quixotic second attempt to coax the former speaker of the House into acknowledging that insistently calling Barack Obama "the food-stamp president" smacks of racial politics, Mr. Gingrich rejoined: "First of all, Juan, more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in history."  This claim sent the crowd into an ecstasy of delight. "I know among the politically correct you're not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable", Mr. Gingrich added.

Defenders of Barack Obama say he has put no one on food stamps and blame what has happened on population growth together with the most severe recession since the advent of the modern American welfare state, which was in full swing when Mr. Obama came into office. Over the years our government has created program after program to help the poor, one upon another, these programs often they overlap. Many see this as a safety net that has succeeded in keeping millions of Americans from being forced to endure the misery of hunger. The fact is that the food stamp program has grown a great deal, to pin the label "food-stamp president" as "politically incorrect" or "racial' is as much of a reach as to not acknowledge this.

The real issue is that regardless of how people feel about Government programs we are currently facing a massive Federal deficit and that the food stamp program also known as SNAP should be reformed. The food purchased with food stamps should be limited to "only" approved basic and healthy foods like milk, eggs, potatoes, rice, chicken, and generic brands of peanut-butter, ice cream, and bread. Off the list should be premium and luxury items such as T-bone steak, and all the high priced frozen items and snack foods that fill America's grocery stores. An example of where they should not be allowed is at the gas station-convenience store near my home where they can be used to purchase pop, cookies or a sandwich.

It should be made clear that those on the program and the people that need help are not the only supporters of this program. A case could be made that the biggest beneficiaries of the food stamp program are grocery stores and the food industry, this includes companies that make everything from breakfast cereals to dinner rolls. If major cuts are made to this program their margins would be squeezed and profits suffer. They are quick to make the claim that they would have to cut back and this could put more people out of work which would hurt the economy. Still, this program is getting out of control, a recent report indicated that an average of 46.6 million people used the program in 2012, up from 26.3 million in 2007, a 177% increase.

I live in the State of Indiana where those on food stamps are given an "Indiana Works" card that looks like a credit card. This card is to spare recipients much of the embarrassment of receiving aid or being on the dole. Many Americans are appalled at the mix of high priced and unhealthy foods our tax dollars are used to buy through this program. People buy these foods to fulfill their "appetite", it has gone far beyond just keeping people from going hungry. It is one thing to let people starve, but how do you justify qualifying someone on government assistance to be able to purchase items that hard working taxpayers often feel unable to afford?

Footnote; This post dovetails with many of my recent writings, for more I might suggest reading the article below. Other related articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged. More about the rapidly expanding SSI program in the article below.

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