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No More Free Lunch

Our friend Ken Blackwell recently authored an article for Townhall titled “No More Free Lunch.”

In it Blackwell cited some amazing statistics about food stamp and welfare usage and President Trump’s effort to rein-in the cost of these programs.

With welfare costing $1.1 trillion last year, most paid for by the federal government, says Blackwell, the Mick Mulvaneyadministration has proposed tightening eligibility requirements for several programs and hopes to cut outlays by $274 billion over the coming decade.

President Trump’s initiative revives the federal workfare requirement. Wrote the president to Congress: “Work must be the center of our social policy.” The purpose is not to punish the needy, but to ensure that they are taken care of. Wasted welfare “takes away scarce resources from those in real need,” he explained.

The president first targeted Food Stamps, noted Blackwell. Now formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), iIn 1996, Congress required work or its equivalent for cash benefits.

However, the Obama administration wanted to expand welfare dependence and allowed states to waive a provision that Congress intended to be mandatory said Blackwell.

Blackwell observes that analyst James Bovard notes that the administration even ran campaigns to recruit SNAP recipients. In 2000, 17 million people received Food Stamps. The SNAP rolls are now at a staggering 44 million, at a cost of $71 billion annually.

Congress needs to act says Blackwell.

The Trump administration would require states to toss in a buck for every four spent by Washington. Moreover, it would be conditional upon the states requiring their able-bodied to earn their benefit. Explained the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney: “If you’re on Food Stamps and you’re able-bodied, then we need you to go to work.”

It turns out that work works. In 2014, Maine added a requirement that able-bodied Food Stamp recipients find a job, get job training or volunteer at least 24 hours a month. Within a year the number of people getting Food Stamps dropped from more than 13,000 to barely 2,700. That’s a cut of 80 percent.

At the start of 2017, thirteen Alabama counties began mandating their able-bodied adult SNAP recipients to work, seek work, or get approved job training. By May, the rolls had dropped by 85 percent. Statewide, since January, the number of able-bodied adults on SNAP has declined by 55 percent.

Those of us who understand human nature are not surprised by this outcome. The idea that giving away “free stuff with no strings attached,” in this case, food, to anyone who signs up for it results in a whole lot of people signing up is pretty basic reasoning, except perhaps at some Ivy League institutions.

The administration expects its reforms, including workfare, will save taxpayers roughly $193 billion over the coming decade. Equally important, noted President Trump’s Direct of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, “We’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number people on these programs. We’re going to measure compassion by how many people we can get off these programs.”

Director Mulvaney is right.

As our friend Terrence P. Jeffery of CNS News pointed out, “Barack Obama was the first president of the United States to spend more on “means-tested entitlements”—AKA welfare—than on national defense, according to data published by his own Office of Management and Budget.”

Historical tables that the OMB posted on the Obama White House website, include annual totals for both “national defense” spending and “means-tested entitlement” spending going back to fiscal 1962--which is three years before President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating the Medicaid program, a means-tested entitlement that together with the Children's Health Insurance Program enrolled 74,407,191 beneficiaries as of November 2016.

In fiscal year 1962, for example, the federal government spent more than twelve times as much money on national defense ($52,345,000,000) as it did on means-test entitlements ($4,300,000,000).

However, national defense spending peaked in 2011, when it hit $705,554,000,000. By contrast, means-tested entitlement spending has increased each year since 2012.

Finally, in fiscal 2015, it exceeded national defense spending for the first time.

According to Jeffrey among the 26 means-tested entitlement programs listed by the OMB are: food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Security Income program, refundable Earned Income Tax Credits. It also includes “Veterans’ Pensions benefits.” This program is not counted as a part of national defense spending but veterans spending. “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers pension programs for certain low-income veterans and their surviving spouses and dependent children,” the Congressional Research Service explains.

The problem is this spending trajectory has continued no matter which party controlled Congress, and the purse strings of government.

The Republicans won control of the Senate--and, thus, both houses of Congress--in the national election held in November 2014, a little more than one month into fiscal 2015. In December 2014, a lame-duck Congress, composed of a Republican-majority House and Democrat-majority Senate, passed an omnibus spending bill that funded the government through fiscal 2015, which ended on Sept. 30, 2015. In fiscal 2016, which ran from Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016, the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the Democrats controlled the White House with President Obama.

President Trump’s workfare proposal demonstrates that he is busy doing what is important for Americans. Congress should join him.

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out of control food stamp cost

If we were to cut off all of our welfare benefits going to illegal aliens that the obama administration recruited into the program or the ones who have figured out how to cheat the system, we would probably save more that the 274 billion suggested by the Trump administration. the obama administration also encouraged fraud in the disability program as well as many other welfare programs. As a disabled American who paid my taxes and into the social security programs for forty years can barely get back just a bit more than the minimum wage. When I have to go to the office to do the paperwork to continue my disability, I see more people that are able-bodied there than those of us who are truly disabled. Fraud is rampant in the disability and medicare and medicaid programs as well as most welfare programs. Illegals and lazy Americans who have figured out how to game the systems are costing us billions every year.