Project 21 New Visions

Hughey Newsome

Oh, SNAP: What They Forget to Say About Food Stamp Cuts


by Hughey Newsome (bio)

 

At the end of October, supplemental aid to the federal food stamp program officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP ran out.

USA Today reported "[v]ulnerable populations will be hardest hit." CNN posted a column by Feeding America's Bob Aiken that warned of the new "strain on millions of families struggling with food insecurity." Currently, there are 47 million Americans receiving SNAP entitlements. There were just over 28 million enrolled in 2008.

What's largely missing from the coverage is why cuts happened in the first place.

Heartless conservative politicians are not responsible for sending kids to bed hungry. The expiration of this expanded spending was embedded in the infamous stimulus bill that was rammed through Congress by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in 2009 at the behest of President Obama. Stimulus spending provided for only a temporary increase. After all, people were only supposed to need more SNAP money until the economy recovered. Surely, they figured, the economy would rebound in four-and-a-half years.

But that was before things such as ObamaCare and the Obama Administration's war on fossil fuels.

Back in 2009, in the $847 billion stimulus bill called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) only $45 billion of that spending went to feed hungry children. The rest went to programs to, supposedly, stimulate economic growth.

Therein lies the problem.

It is difficult to make the claim that stimulus spending actually worked as intended creating jobs and growing the economy while also lamenting that people who should now be self-sufficient still need to be fed through government entitlements. At some point, it can't be denied the original program failed. Obama himself joked back in 2011 that "Shovel-ready was not as... uh... shovel-ready as we expected."

The problem is that the stimulus, increased regulations and now ObamaCare are failing. Instead of creating jobs, the policies of the Obama Administration are making people increasingly reliant on entitlements such as SNAP.

Rather than admitting defeat, liberals' next step is to push for more regulation and more spending to subsidize and prop up their failures without ever having a conversation about why the original grand ideas did not work. All the while, more people are signing up for entitlements straining the government's safety net more and more.

Predictably, those who criticize conservatives as heartless for not supporting Obama's parade of jobs proposals following the ARRA do not have the wherewithal to admit the stimulus actually failed. Then again, they are the same who say the rich aren't taxed enough and seem to believe there is an infinite amount of money among the rich and the business community to solve society's problems.

This is a problem because, no matter how much is taken from the rich or the boss, the resources of middle-class and lower-class households who manage a finite set of resources, or businesses whose managers are judged on the ability to meet customer expectations while keeping costs low are also affected.

Neither businesses nor families assume infinite resources are available to solve their problems. They are accountable when they fail to manage their finite resources properly. Meanwhile, they now must present a growing share of those resources to a government that assumes there are no limits.

That's unfortunately how there can be so little discussion of how nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus spending missed the mark so badly. That is how people assume government can replace families as a social institution. That is how programs that discourage self-accountability and promote government dependency (and control) continue unabated.

Of course, conservatives already know that just taking money from the rich and future generations (in the form of America's current $17 trillion of debt) and redistributing it as politicians see fit is not a cure-all.

The unfortunate thing is that too many people who must deal with the challenges of finite resources in their daily lives support politicians lacking the ability to do so.

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Hughey Newsome, a business consultant in the D.C. area, is a member of the national advisory council of the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.


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