Angela Hill: Who Gets Food Stamps and Who Shouldn?t
Lost in the chaos of shutting down the federal government was the issue now before the Senate…whether to slash 40 billion dollars in the food stamp program. It has already passed the house. It’s 40 billion dollars over a ten year period…or four billion dollars a year…a lot of money.
Does it mean thousands of people will go hungry? Or, is it an opportunity to reset the guidelines on who gets food stamps? Should able bodied people be required to work to get the stamps or be in some type of job training?
In 2001 the program served 17 million people at a cost of 15 billion dollars. By June of this year there were roughly three times that many recipients…47.8 million…at a cost of about 75 million dollars.
Let’s talk to the Louisiana office of Food Stamps about why the big increase. Who is getting food stamps? How they qualified and what happens if this bill passes.
That is a big increase…almost three times. Was the financial meltdown of ‘08 and ‘09 and millions of lost jobs the reason for the increase? How does one qualify here in Louisiana?
What are the restrictions on the use of food stamps? Can you buy cigarettes and liquor? How long can you receive food stamps?
President Obama waived the work requirement in ‘09 as part of his stimulus package, but as the economy gets better, shouldn’t that be put back on?
In fact, two states have already added it…Oklahoma and Kansas. In both states able bodied people up to age 49 with no dependents will have to work 20 hours or be in job training…to get food stamps.
Oklahoma House Speaker T. W. Shannon said the work requirement would help food stamp recipients break their addiction to government subsidies. Wisconsin will take the step next in July…and five states have not used the waiver.
No one wants to see anyone hungry in this country, but it is shocking that government figures show one in seven Americans are on food stamps.
If this passes by next year 4 million people will be removed from the program starting next year. After that, the Congressional budget office says about three million a year would be cut off.
An interesting figure is that the Census Bureau released a report last month that said the Food Stamp Program had kept about 4 million people above the poverty level. (47 million people live in poverty...that’s close to the highest level in two decades.)
And, lastly: The increase in the number of Americans on food stamps comes as most analysts agree the buying power for most Americans has fallen steadily over the last two decades. If food stamps are helping make up the difference for many families…many working poor, would a cut in benefits accelerate the widening gap between the "haves" and "have-nots"…or eliminate abuse and encourage more Americans to be self-reliant?
Today on ANGELA: at 1 o’clock--younger workers versus older workers. More and more employers are seeing the perks of hiring baby boomers and older workers…while many Gen Y and Millennials proudly call themselves “slashies”…choosing several jobs rather than a career. Is it the fear of becoming workaholics like their parents…or is about diversity and personal satisfaction? Is it more of a lifestyle than a life path? And, if you were hiring today, where would you make your investment? PLUS: Food stamps could be slashed by 40 billion dollars. Who will it really affect…the working poor… people who’ve just fallen on hard times…or the people who’ve taken advantage of the system? How will it affect Louisiana? And, should you have to work to get food stamps unless you’re incapable? ALSO at 3pm: Angela’s 2nd “Open Book” conversation with the first lady of the New Orleans Saints, GAIL BENSON. Don’t miss Angela... An Open Mind with New Orleans legend, Angela Hill…weekdays 1 to 3pm on WWL.