Food stamps are designed for real emergencies, not for people who are too lazy to find a job.
In 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allowed all states to waive the work requirements for SNAP enrollment. This made is easy for people to take advantage of the program.
Between 2008 and 2010, the number of people enrolled in the SNAP program increased from 1.9 million to 4.9 million.
Obama’s rule expired last year, but Alabama was able to waive the work requirements for 13 counties due to “high unemployment.” This year, the state decided to reinstate the work requirement for all counties.
Roughly 17% of Alabama’s population was enrolled in the SNAP program as of January 1st, 2016. Since January 1st of this year, enrollment has dropped from 13,663 to 7,483.
According to the reinstated rule, ABAWDs (able-bodied adults without dependents) are limited to three months of SNAP benefits during a three-year period unless they are working at least 80 hours per month or taking part in an approved training program.
“Based on the trend, the number of [ABAWD] recipients for SNAP benefits is expected to continue to decline statewide and in the formerly 13 exempted counties,” said John Hardy, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s budget proposal seeks to further reduce the number of able-bodied Americans enrolled in the SNAP program. The White House believes reforms to the food stamp program could generate $190 billion or more in savings over the next 10 years.
Over 90% of SNAP funding comes from the federal government. This means they have “the right and obligation to establish the moral principles on which the program operates,” argues Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
The government should require “constructive behavior” from all ABAWD SNAP recipients, insists Rector, such as requiring them to “take a job, prepare for work, perform community service, or at a minimum search for employment in exchange for aid and assistance at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Editor’s note: At the risk of being trite, social programs of this type are meant to be a “trampoline” not “flypaper.”