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States Get New Options to Limit Food Stamps

by Countable | 12.7.17

What’s the story?

The USDA issued a letter Tuesday that heralds a new era in the administration of food stamp programs, called SNAP, by the states. The letter to state food stamp coordinators offered “greater flexibility” in administering their programs in order to promote "self-sufficiency", "integrity", and "customer service".

According to a report by Politico, greater flexibility will allow some states to include drug testing of SNAP recipients and expand work requirements.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin announced his intention to institute mandatory drug testing for all adult SNAP recipients. Walker has attempted to institute the requirement in the past, but was consistently blocked by the Obama administration.

The SNAP program already has work requirements. Over 58% of recipients nationwide work, and the majority of those who do not are ineligible due to age or disability. However, states are allowed to waive the requirement if unemployment is high. The administration has already floated the idea of restricting those waivers, requiring more people to find whatever employment in economically depressed areas or be kicked off the rolls.

Other measures allowed under the new, flexible guidelines will be announced in coming weeks, said the letter.

One in eight Americans currently receive SNAP benefits — approximately 44 million people. The program costs the federal government $70 billion annually. The average monthly benefit is $125.

What do you think?

Should states be afforded "greater flexibility" in administering food stamp programs? Are programs like the one in Wisconsin encouraging self-sufficiency or targeting the poor? Do you have concerns about the fate of the social safety net or do you think the administration is on the right track?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(73)
  • Rebecca
    12/07/2017
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    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander! If states can drug test for welfare recipients then so should it be for the Executive, legislative & judiciary branches of government.

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  • Karan
    12/07/2017
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    I don’t see why the left is against this. All this does is allow conservative states do be conservative and liberal states to be liberal. You liberals want a one liberal size fits all approach. Let the states take care of it. NY may want to be more generous with food stamps while KY will want to make sure there’s less fraud. Let the states do as they please.

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  • Donna
    12/07/2017
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    And, so it starts. I predict by the end of the year this ineffective, immoral, corrupt and self-serving Congress will have stripped away a large portion of our social safety nets. Isn't this the same group of legislators who passed a freaking bill yesterday requiring states with laws allowing the concealed carrying of firearms to recognize all other states with the same privilege? States rights? When it suits them -- and their gun-lobby donors. HYPOCRITES. The best thing Congress can do for the American people right now is take an extended HOLIDAY vacation.

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  • Themis
    12/07/2017
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    This is an expansion of the GOP war on the poor, and a gift to drug testing firms. Where drug testing has been implemented for other programs, it has cost way more than it saved, and gave lucrative contracts to crony business.

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  • Heidi
    12/08/2017
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    Poverty is not about “customer service. “ I am appalled at the insanity of these statements. Go to a food pantry and see the people with their walkers and oxygen and fragile mental state standing in line for FOOD and then tell me they don’t deserve to live because that is the message loud and clear. Survival of the fittest is beneath the human race. I continue to be appalled every day at the callous hearts of elected officials. Has anyone there ever heard the phrase “but there for the grace of God, go I...”

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  • burrkitty
    12/07/2017
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    This is foolish. They tried this drug testing thing before and it was just a colossal waste. It costs more money to do drug testing than it saves by catching people who use drugs and kickingd them noff the program. You know why? Last time they tested and everyone passed. No one failed the drug test. Because most people on SNAP are just normal working Americans who need extra help. Drugs addicts won't spend the time to do all paperwork required to get SNAP benefits. Normal people who need help are the ones who use SNAP. It's a good program with very low waste. I have never used SNAP myself, but I worked as a cashier in a grocery store and most people using it are mothers with small children. They wring every pennies worth of food out of that 175$ a month. Perhaps it would be more useful to act on the underlying reasons why so many people need the help instead of targeting the program that keeps them from starving.

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  • Tammy
    12/08/2017
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    Another waste of taxpayer dollars in your war on the poor, sick and disenfranchised.

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  • Laura
    12/08/2017
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    Let’s call this what it is. This is nothing more than the latest GOP attack on the poor and the marginalized and it is promoted and supported by misinformation and mean spirited myths and propaganda about who receives SNAP benefits. The majority of able bodied adults who receive food benefits are employed. And a high percentage of those who aren’t working are between jobs and have worked within the year. Work registration and work requirements are already included in federal SNAP policy. Almost 70% of households who receive food benefits include children and children make up nearly half of those receiving SNAP. The elderly make up 11% of those receiving SNAP and another approximately a quarter of the adults receiving benefits are disabled or have health concerns that affect their ability to be gainfully employed. So let me answer the critics who wonder why “the left” cares about the potential of allowed red states will almost certainly continue their war on the poor through more restrictive policies, which means more people will be without food or enough food to provide for their families. This isn’t a political issue, it’s an issue of compassion for our brothers and sisters in need. People deserve to have adequate food. Additionally, drug testing has already been shown to be incredibly expense and ineffective and a massive waste of money when implemented in other programs such as the TANF program. And again, such a policy is based upon the assumption that those who receive assistance are lazy druggies who refuse to work. This is simply not the case. I have worked with the SNAP program for almost 30 years now, so I have personal knowledge regarding the people who receive these benefits. But for the grace of God any one of us could be in such dire need tomorrow regardless of the privileged lives we lead today. Forcing people into poverty resulting in inadequate food leads to a less healthy population. This means more trips to the doctor by a population that tends to be uninsured. This raises the cost of medical care for all of us. It means children get sick and miss school and adults miss more work. Less work means less money. And so the vicious cycle continues. One last thing, the SNAP program also contributes to the economy. Research reveals for every $5 spent on SNAP there is $9 in economic activity. What could be better for the economy? So how about every one set aside their misconceptions and support this common sense solution to a very real problem? Reject this proposal. Every citizen in every state should have equal access to food regardless of which political party controls state government.

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  • Brian
    12/07/2017
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    Once again the Republican agenda punish the poor for being poor and reward those that have everything with even more at the expense of the poor and middle class.. and soon republicans might be able to welcome another sexual predator to their ranks. They already have a p@&$@&$ grabber in the White House.

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  • Stuart
    12/08/2017
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    About time they do something to correct, control and limit the use and abuse of food stamps!

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  • JTJ
    12/08/2017
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    All welfare programs should be run by the states. Running welfare programs is not an appropriate function of the federal government.

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  • Gerald
    12/08/2017
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    You know, it makes me sick to see one after another of these cruel and vicious ideas rammed through by republicans. We give the rich and corporations a trillion dollars tax cut out of a treasury already 20 trillion in debt and then unleash each state to punish the poorest of the poor with new challenges to getting food stamps. Drug tests? You’re too weak. Make them dance and sing and entertain the state employees before receiving the help. Maybe require haircuts and clean clothes since they are all bums. Rob them of what ever little self esteem they have before giving them the gift of food. The same party wants to put Christmas and Jesus pictures in government buildings and their Lord can look down and cry at the humiliation suffered by the poor at the hands of this right wing party.

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  • Dave
    12/07/2017
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    The only people that this will hurting are the children, but the conservative republican don't care! The same red state that as high drug problem should all be tested. These red states are sucking the life out of the blue states (NY , CA, etc 12). Red state are the welfare queens of America. Blue state take care of their people, the children and the red states. Check the history blue states Liberals care, but they can only do so much. Coal country republican knew coal was dead, that gas was cheaper, did they prepare their people, no.

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  • VSB
    12/08/2017
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    A lot of children receive SNAP so are they going to drug test children? Only the greedy GOP would think this acceptable! The GOP just don't care about Americans except the wealthy! In fact they despise most of us and want to ensure the most vulnerable among us are deprived of the basic necessities: food, shelter and health care! Please don't support them, senators!

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  • Rachel
    12/08/2017
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    So the government wants to cut taxes for the wealthy & for corporations AND wants to cut food stamps & benefits for the poor & needy? "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses" so we can then screw them? It is ridiculous & shameful for the wealthiest country in the world to let even one citizen go hungry. What happen to compassion & empathy? I love my country & I am disgusted by my government.

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  • Hillary
    12/08/2017
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    This is disgusting. HUNGRY CHILDREN are everyone’s responsibility. Children don’t have the option of going out and getting a job, they don’t have the option of getting a better job, they can’t force their parents to get better jobs, and yet children are the ones going to bed hungry. Those who oppose keeping SNAP easily available for hungry families should think about that the next time the vote for restrictive rules that ban safe, legal abortions. They act to create more hungry children and then they don’t want to feed them.

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  • Rebekah
    12/08/2017
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    What does drug testing have to do with receiving Food Snap benefits??? A recipient of such benefits cannot buy drugs with their food “stamp” benefits card. A recipient cannot not get cash back with their food “stamp” card either. SNAP specifically only covers food. Should there be flexibility?? YES. Food stamp recipients should be able to get hot food with their benefits card. Like a hot mocha, hot chocolate, tuna melt sandwich from a convenient store with a mini deli. Regardless of prejudice employees. One more comment on this subject, a person making the sandwich should be more concerned with their professionalism in making the sandwich, rather than how the customer is paying for that sandwich.

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  • Ishaq
    12/07/2017
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    This move has precedence. It mimics Rick Scott’s failed attempt at suscipionless drug testing which cost the state of Florida close to 2 million in legal fees. Stop wasting the taxpayer’s time and money.

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  • BeStrong
    12/08/2017
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    Have you ever been hungry? Not eaten to ensure your kids have something to eat? No...then shut up and feed someone!

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  • Azrael
    12/07/2017
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    They’ve tried this It failed All the big talk about helping addicts must be bull💩 All the talk about drug addiction being a disease must be bull💩 Let’s help addicts recover. Let’s take away food That’s a sure cure for poverty and addiction Hypocrites

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