- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 22, 2013


Let’s cut to the chase.

More than 47 million people are enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a 70 percent increase since Barack Obama became president-elect in 2008.

The Senate passed a food stamp measure earlier this year that would trim funding by about $400 million.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would cut funding by about $40 billion over 10 years.

Oh, snap, was the immediate reaction, and rightly so.

Because we’ve been down this road before, it’s certainly time for meaningful reform, so that people who need food stamps can get them and people who are merely gaming the system cannot.

In the District, for example, an unemployed, single adult with no disabilities and no dependents can receive $150 a month in food stamps. By comparison, the national per-person monthly average is $133.

The House bill addresses and re-addresses key issues.

One requirement rewrites eligibility requirements, which in many instances allows people to qualify for food stamps automatically if they are receiving other government aid. Another stipulation reinstates the so-called “able-bodied adult” rule, a work-related requirement that was an important tool in the Republican-led welfare reform bucket during the Clinton years.

Yet another reform measure this time around would allow states to require drug tests in exchange for receiving food stamps.

Such a mandate can be tricky, however, if the policy puts dependents at risk because of others’ negligible behavior. (To wit: I have seen apparent substance abusers offer to pay for others’ groceries with their food stamp cards in exchange for cash.)

Tightening rules always can cut down on food stamp abuse and, perhaps, help ensure that people who actually need food stamps can receive them, especially seniors as baby boomers retire.

Like so many entitlement programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP or food stamps, as it’s called — has undergone several reforms.

Created in 1939 to help the poor purchase produce, meat and dairy products from domestic farmers, the food stamp initiative has become far more than a feeding program.

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