The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Nutrition is considering a bill to reform the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The House Committee on Agriculture referred House Resolution 2832 (H.R. 2832), the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, on June 26 to the Nutrition Subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA).
The bill would require the federal government to track and report all federal, state, and local means-tested welfare spending, plus projected future spending.
H.R. 2832 would also create new work requirements for single, able-bodied welfare recipients and transfer responsibility for subsidized housing programs from the federal government to the states.
Success in States
U.S. Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH), sponsor of H.R. 2832, says it expands on reforms proven to work at the state level.
“States that have put work requirements on SNAP recipients have found you get people who no longer are in the program,” Jordan said. “They choose to get better employment, or they get the skill set they need and then move on to better opportunities in life. It saves the taxpayers money, but most importantly it helps the people who have been stuck in the system.
“Do we want to continue to do nothing, or do we want to help them get a skill set, get the training, get the education, and get the experience they need to move to something better in life?” Jordan said.
SNAP is demonstrably not working in its present form, Jordan says.
“Right now, since World War II, we are at the lowest percentage of the workforce population actually in the workforce,” Jordan said.
Welfare vs. Work
Gary MacDougal, coauthor of “2015 Welfare Reform Report Card,” says the nation’s current welfare system encourages dependency, not work.
“If you can collect food stamps and not even look for a job, then we’re incentivizing people the wrong way,” MacDougal said. “When recipients get a job, that’s the big outcome we’re looking for.”
In addition to reforming entitlement programs, state and federal lawmakers should reform taxes to ensure working hard works, MacDougal says.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to get a raise or a better job, because the benefits you lose are greater than the additional paycheck,” MacDougal said. “Each state needs to take a good look at how their benefits, combined with the federal benefits, either encourage or discourage increases in income.”