“We have to restructure incentives to achieve the outcomes we want…”
Washington, DC – Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) recently introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reform Act of 2017 to require the program to do more to connect the unemployed with existing job placement and job training opportunities so that more people who are able to work can. Graves introduced the bill to fight poverty, support families and promote self-sufficiency while helping stem the tide of government dependence.
Graves’ legislationbuilds upon the successful track record of mandatory federal work requirements first established in President Bill Clinton’s 1996 “welfare reform,” taking a similar approach to strengthen the work requirements for “able-bodied adults without dependents” who are food stamp recipients through SNAP.
“There are talented people across our country who aren’t pursuing the full potential of their capabilities largely because government incentives make it more profitable in some cases to stay home and collect welfare than to pursue personal growth and responsibility through work,” said Graves. “Government needs to provide a safety net for the vulnerable, but it’s become a lifestyle for some to actively choose government assistance over work – that’s a disservice to those people, the economy and the taxpayer. We have to restructure incentives to achieve the outcomes we want and to get capable people off the sidelines and involved in building America’s future. This bill is a small step toward that goal.”
A job is a powerful tool for getting out of poverty and securing long term prosperity. As such, this bill would reinforce the work requirement for certain able bodied adults with no dependents in order to receive SNAP benefits.
Specifically, the bill contains the following provisions –
· Creates additional opportunities to satisfy the work requirement through a supervised job search.
· Reduces the number of SNAP recipients exempt from the work requirement.
· Retains state flexibility for exempting certain individuals from the work requirement.
In 2015, the U.S. government spent over $1 trillion on means-tested welfare aid, providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income individuals.
Graves continued: “Hard times invariably come and when they do, Americans deserve to have peace of mind knowing that there are systems in place to help them get back on their feet – that won’t be the case if the government keeps spending the way it does now. We have to do a better job protecting resources for those truly in need by helping those down on their luck find new opportunities to earn a living.”
The food stamp program is the nation’s second largest means-tested welfare program. The number of food stamp recipients has risen dramatically from about 17.2 million in 2000 to 45.8 million in 2015. Costs have risen from $20.7 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2000 to $83.1 billion in FY 2014.
A number of states in recent years have instituted similar work requirements, helping more people find jobs and producing dramatic declines in food stamp rolls. Alabama, for example, reinstated SNAP work requirements in 13 counties that were exempted after the economic downturn of 2011-2013. Those counties experienced an 85% drop in food stamp participation and a corresponding decrease in unemployment. In one of those counties, the jobless rate was down 11 points in April 2017 compared to April 2011.
If it becomes law, Graves’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 would encourage millions of Americans to get back to work, help end the cycle of poverty for millions dependent on government assistance, and save taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade.