Study: The rapid growth of food stamps hasn’t really helped to reduce hunger

posted at 5:21 pm on October 17, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Now that the shutdown is finally over, one of the first items on Congress’s agenda is combining the Senate-passed farm bill with the House’s semi-separated agriculture and food stamps bills into some sort of mutually acceptable version. The end of the shutdown and the Republican — loss? victory? status-quo maintenance? depends on who you ask — could play either way in the highly contentious fight over the already-expired provisions, as one Democratic conferee speculated on Wednesday. Politico reports on the conferees’ meeting:

Present were Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and her ranking Republican, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, as well as Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House side.

“I think we can get a farm bill. They sounded optimistic to me,” Cochran told POLITICO outside. But members in both parties said it remains to be seen what the fallout will be from the last few weeks of conflict over the government shutdown. …

“Having leadership muck around in this is not helpful,” Peterson told POLITICO. “It could go either way. These guys could exact a pound of flesh out of us because of what’s happened to them with the budget: `We’re going to take it out on the farm bill.’”

“It could go the other way: `We’ve had enough of this we’re going to back off.’ It’s hard to know how it is going to play but I’m concerned about this.

I.e., Democrats are wondering how far Republicans are going to push their oh-so-draconian food-stamp crusade (to cut an utterly hateful 5 percent from an almost $80 billion/year program that has practically doubled in size in the past five years) considering the political optics of the shutdown battle.

Regardless of whatever compromise (or lack thereof) Congress eventually comes up with, we can almost certainly look forward to a huge helping of demagoguery and distortion from the Democrats about how Republicans are such heartless and greedy jerks, because there couldn’t be any other possible motivation in the world for wanting to control the ballooning costs of an explosively growing welfare program and cracking down on eligibility requirements than wanting to hurt poor people out of spite.

They won’t do it, but Democrats should seriously rethink their foregone conclusion that simply throwing more and more money that we don’t have at a very real material problem is the best and only solution for it. A new study from Michael Tanner at the Cato Institute attests to the out-of-control waste, fraud, and negative impacts of the well-intentioned but consequence-riddled and overly-expensive program, and the ways in which the federal government has mounted aggressive outreach campaigns and relaxed eligibility standards to effectively transform SNAP into a long-term welfare program that has done little-to-nothing to actually reduce poverty. A clutch excerpt:

Even setting aside the growing cost and doubtful effectiveness, SNAP is an inefficient, fraud-ridden, and deeply troubled program.

For example, SNAP’s administrative costs are considerably higher than those of most other social welfare programs. In 2013, the program’s total administrative expenses at both the federal and state level are expected to top $7 billion, more than 9 percent of program costs. The federal share of administrative expenses alone is more than $4.5 billion, and that is expected to increase to almost $6 billion by 2023.

SNAP also has a high rate of fraud and abuse. Officially, the USDA puts program fraud at around $858 million last year, which would amount to just a bit more than 1 percent of SNAP expenditures. But this calculation only refers to direct fraud, such as trafficking in benefits. It does not include roughly $2.2 billion annually in erroneous payments to individuals who were not properly eligible for participation or who received benefits in excess of the amount to which they should have been entitled. The erroneous payments raise the total fraud and abuse rate to more than 3.9 percent, making SNAP one of the most frequently abused non–health care social welfare programs.


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Remind me what the obesity rate is among food stamp users? Abuse confirmed.

hillsoftx on October 17, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Democratic thought – FOOD STAMPS BUY VOTES!

GarandFan on October 17, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Dah..Now they are hungry for more free stuff.

derft on October 17, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Remind me what the obesity rate is among food stamp users? Abuse confirmed.

hillsoftx on October 17, 2013 at 5:28 PM

I’m more concerned about the rate of alcoholism and drug abuse.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on October 17, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Give a man a fish ….

OldEnglish on October 17, 2013 at 5:35 PM

United States: The only country where obesity is an indicator of poverty.

BobMbx on October 17, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Give a man a fish ….

OldEnglish on October 17, 2013 at 5:35 PM

and he’ll eat for a day. Feed a man to fish — and he’ll shut up about it.

Axe on October 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM

The rapid growth of food stamps hasn’t really helped to reduce hunger

Uh, that’s probably because 50% of “food stamps” are traded for drugs, cigarettes and malt liquor.

Pork-Chop on October 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM

. . . wait, that’s not it . . .

Axe on October 17, 2013 at 5:39 PM

You can lead a man to water, but you cannot make him fish.

. . . no, wait, that’s not it either.

Axe on October 17, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Yeah, junk food, purple drank, red bull, mac donalds, taco hell, candy, gum and soda don’t do much for nutrition.

I say let’s all do a MO-BO thing and make a new mandate that from this point forward only healthy and nutritional foods can be purchased with food stamps or ObamaCards.

/Eh. It’ll never happen. Keep ‘em all sugared up and on drugs – that’s what Marxists like.

Key West Reader on October 17, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Axe on October 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Heh! Piranha snacks or shark feast?

OldEnglish on October 17, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Using up your EBT allotment on steak and lobster for a week might leave you hungry the rest of the month.

Bitter Clinger on October 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Give a man a fish ….

OldEnglish on October 17, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Steal a fish from someone else and give to a man, and your a Dem.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on October 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM

The people who want to claim that hunger in America is an issue which must be addressed through more government spending or more charity are not being honest–this is whether they are leftist or someone in the Christian or Jewish clergy. I have been asking such people for years to introduce to me any actually honestly starving person whose condition isn’t either completely self-inflicted like anorexia or criminal behavior like child abuse. No one has even considered introducing me to such an individual. Yet, Mazon, a Jewish anti-hunger group, wants to claim that 1 in 6 Americans faces hungry. I say not only are they lyingm they know they are lying. While there may be good reasons to lie, what hunger activists–whether religious, leftist, or both–do is completely contemptible. They deserve our scorn. The money we squander fighting non-existent hunger should be used to address a real problem.

thuja on October 17, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Study: The rapid growth of food stamps hasn’t really helped to reduce hunger

And the war on poverty fought since 1965 has done little to reduce poverty….

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’
Ronald Reagan

Athos on October 17, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Speaking of EBT…

I had the experience today of being in the downtown of a mid-size city and having my first contact with vendors of “FREE GOVERNMENT PHONES”. Here’s what I learned:

1) You qualify for a free cell phone and free 250 minutes per month if you are currently enrolled in ANY of the following programs:

1a) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
1b) Medicaid (not Medicare)
1c) Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
1d) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
1e) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
1f) National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program (NSLP)
1g) Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) Section 8

2) You MUST SHOW PHOTO I.D. & documented proof of your participation in one of the above government benefit programs.

3) The guy trying to sign people up for “FREE GOVERNMENT PHONES” gets paid $1 per phone sign-up.

===========================================

Those phones aren’t “FREE”… there’s no such thing as a “Free Lunch” or a “Free Phone”… YOU AND I pay for those phones, through fees charged to OUR Cell Phone bill!

I am a big believer in charity… when I am the one giving to people or giving to organizations of my choice which give to people. But when government mandates more income redistribution by charging us more fees and taxes so that others can receive products and services for free from “the government” I get very upset.

The recipients of charity should feel appreciation for the donors of that charity. And when charity comes to them from a religious organization, they may be more receptive to a spiritual message from that organization.

But when people receive redistribution that is forced by the government, they do not feel any appreciation at all for the true source of the money behind that product or service. All they feel is contempt for those taxpayers, thinking that those taxpayers should “pay a little bit more” in taxes so that they (the recipients) can receive more benefits from “the government”. Appreciation and respect which should be shown to the true source of that product or service is instead shown as loyalty to the government that gave them “Free Stuff”.

The Democrat-led government is stealing my money to buy votes for, and loyalty to, themselves.

That is wrong.

And why is it that requiring a Photo I.D. for a “FREE GOVERMENT PHONE” is perfectly acceptable, but requiring a Photo I.D. to vote is somehow racist?

(Of course I know that the “racist” attack is a straw man, but they make that false claim to try to preserve and protect their voter fraud.)

ITguy on October 17, 2013 at 5:51 PM

there was a woman on Cavuto’s show this pm saying Rs have no ability to message things…and until they buy a few clues, the county won’[t stand a chance

sad really that the fate of the country is in the hands of Gumshoe government workers, the professional left, and an opposition party like rubbing shoulders with money…and live cozy lives

r keller on October 17, 2013 at 5:51 PM

and the ways in which the federal government has mounted aggressive outreach campaigns and relaxed eligibility standards to effectively transform SNAP into a long-term welfare program that has done little-to-nothing to actually reduce poverty

It’s not intended to reduce “poverty” because poverty is the state prior to government intervention with entitlements like food stamps. It’s there to maintain “poverty” as an acceptable condition because with the entitlements, there is little reason to alter the existing condition, which is poverty and the more one jacks up the benefits associated with helping those living in “poverty”, the more comfortable it is to live in it.

Dusty on October 17, 2013 at 5:55 PM

And why is it that requiring a Photo I.D. for a “FREE GOVERMENT PHONE” is perfectly acceptable, but requiring a Photo I.D. to vote is somehow racist?

I’m shocked, shocked, to see a double standard at play here….

Seriously, to me one of the most annoying aspects is that for some in this country, there are legitimate needs for a temporary government assistance / safety net to help out those truly in need because of circumstances outside of their direct control.

But when people receive redistribution that is forced by the government, they do not feel any appreciation at all for the true source of the money behind that product or service. All they feel is contempt for those taxpayers, thinking that those taxpayers should “pay a little bit more” in taxes so that they (the recipients) can receive more benefits from “the government”. Appreciation and respect which should be shown to the true source of that product or service is instead shown as loyalty to the government that gave them “Free Stuff”.

This says it very well. The Democrats created, expanded, and are now perpetuating a cycle of dependency in order to buy votes. They have codified what de Tocqueville predicted about 175 years ago…

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.

Athos on October 17, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Because people need lap dances! Priorities.

vityas on October 17, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Study: The rapid growth of food stamps hasn’t really helped to reduce hunger

Here’s a Muppet News Flash: It never will. Just like the War on Drugs did nothing to reduce drug abuse, and the War on Poverty did nothing to reduce poverty. All these programs do is steal money from taxpayers to buy votes.

RoadRunner on October 17, 2013 at 6:09 PM

When the EBT was introduced, it was heralded as a way to reduce fraud. Back then, a trip to the grocery store involved a manned checkout line with a checker authorized to demand ID or call cops if something seemed hinky.

Electronic checkout kiosks have saved grocery stores and Walmarts time and money, but can’t tell that there are few skinny white guys named Shaniqua. Furthermore, EBT users, especially those doing something wrong, are known to bring the drama when they go through manned checkout lanes. Kiosks have let stores get away with fewer checkers and assistant managers.

But they have enabled EBT users to “lose” their cards to providers of illegal or off-books services, then report them “stolen” for long enough to let said provider pick up the steaks and lobsters for themselves at the checkout kiosks. As a side note here, how many illegal aliens are using EBTs with their American-born children’s names?

The solution here is simple, but the stores and the illegals aren’t gonna like it: Require photo ID for all EBT transactions, on pain of the Ag Department not honoring the transaction, and incentivize states to demand police reports for stolen EBT cards past, say, once every 12-24 months.

Sekhmet on October 17, 2013 at 6:10 PM

The first thing I think whenever I step into America is “Damn, look at all these starving people”. It’s always a shock.

DarkCurrent on October 17, 2013 at 6:11 PM

IIRC, Current EBT cards are supposed to have the photo of the authorized user on them.

EBT rules also prohibit the use of EBT cards for certain transactions. However, there are always retailers who are willing to fake a transaction, for a fee that comes from the EBT card balance to use for restricted services or cash. There are also states that allow EBT cards to be used to get cash at the register just as you can do with your debit card.

Cash is fungible. It can be used for anything, including those items officially banned from EBT purchase.

In this Administration, and in many states, there is more interest in expanding the programs than in enforcing their proper use.

Athos on October 17, 2013 at 6:26 PM

40 acres and a mule suddenly sounds like the cheaper option.

BobMbx on October 17, 2013 at 6:40 PM

In this Administration, and in many states, there is more interest in expanding the programs than in enforcing their proper use.

And success is measured by the dollars spent and the number of people in the programs – not by how effective or efficient the programs are. Transitioning people from the dole to jobs and self-sufficiency isn’t part of their goal.

Locking down votes with ‘free’ stuff from the government works so much better.

Athos on October 17, 2013 at 6:43 PM

2) You MUST SHOW PHOTO I.D. & documented proof of your participation in one of the above government benefit programs.

Isn’t that racist? After all, we know that it’s far to hard for the poor – especially if they are black – to be able to obtain photo-IDs.

bw222 on October 17, 2013 at 6:54 PM

The erroneous payments raise the total fraud and abuse rate to more than 3.9 percent, making SNAP one of the most frequently abused non–health care social welfare programs.

I find 3.9% hard to believe. I think more like 10-12%.

slickwillie2001 on October 17, 2013 at 7:16 PM

In MA where I live the reason the growth has not resulted in feeding children is that people who were not really very honest to begin with get several fraudulent cards a piece, and they cash them in for CASH to buy whatever else they want. Stores here have been busted taking a cut in the Foodstamps into Cash scheme. When Duval Patrick and Elizabeth Warren mailed voter reg and absentee ballot applications to the welfare list, 50,000 were returned addressee unknown. They kept their mouths shut until after the election.

Fleuries on October 17, 2013 at 7:49 PM

AMERICAN GUBrMINT IS SO GREAT…. HUH

Take a look at old pictures of the soup kitchen lines during the great Depression… now realize how minuscule those lines would be if the photos were taken today.

The food stamp program is nothing more than the governments taking the lines off the street, hiding the reality. It have simply made the results of its corruption, incompetence and theft invisible.

Eyes wide shut!

roflmmfao

donabernathy on October 17, 2013 at 7:55 PM

and he’ll eat for a day. Feed a man to fish — and he’ll shut up about it.

Axe on October 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM

The pirhana sharks gang up on you to bite your legs off.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Heh! Piranha snacks or shark feast?

OldEnglish on October 17, 2013 at 5:43 PM

I had something lame queued up to answer you, something vague about everyone being piranha-ist lately, but, I’m trumped:

The pirhana sharks gang up on you to bite your legs off.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Axe on October 17, 2013 at 8:39 PM

The pirhana sharks gang up on you to bite your legs off.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:35 PM

I prefer to call them Vichy Republicans or Quisling Republicans as opposed to pirhana sharks….

…no wait, the former are only ankle biters….

Athos on October 17, 2013 at 8:44 PM

Study: The rapid growth of food stamps hasn’t really helped to reduce hunger

That’s because in the Age of Obama, food stamps are not supposed to reduce hunger, but increase poor peoples’ dependency on government for survival.

This President doesn’t give a shit if poor people go hungry from day to day, as long as they have enough food in their bellies on election day to vote Democrat early, often and always.

Sacramento on October 17, 2013 at 9:33 PM

The rapid growth of food stamps hasn’t really helped to reduce hunger

…because there needs to be more food stamps…duh!

KOOLAID2 on October 17, 2013 at 10:29 PM

thuja on October 17, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Suspicions confirmed!

I hear ads on the radio daily urging people to get onto the program.
They tell me that in RI there are X number of hungry kids in spite of the program. I am so tired of the B.S.

FOWG1 on October 17, 2013 at 11:13 PM