Background: In 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which became popularly known as “welfare reform,” into law. The legislation transformed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program intended to provide temporary financial assistance to low-income families while encouraging work and self-sufficiency. Most significantly, the 1996 welfare reform included mandatory federal work requirements, stipulating that welfare recipients must be engaged in work or some type of work activity in order to receive TANF benefits.
As Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation have written:
“Mandatory federal work requirements for recipients were at the heart of the change, which led to significant decreases in the program’s rolls, increased work among former recipients, and historic reductions in child poverty.”
Problem: Despite the success of the 1996 welfare reform, 20 years later there’s still much to be done to ensure that the welfare system moves people towards work and self-sufficiency rather than towards government dependency. According to Rector and Sheffield’s paper Setting Priorities for Welfare Reform:
It’s tempting to go on a tirade about all the terrible policies packed into the trillion food stamp and farm bill, but recent reports make it a little easier for us to hone in on one glaring problem: food stamp fraud and the explosive costs of and participation in the food stamp program.
Farm bill supporters boasted before its passage of an expected $8.6 billion in savings on food stamps over 10 years by tightening a loophole in the food stamp program. The cuts were related to the “heat and eat” program, which allowed participating states to give low-income households as little as $1 a year in home heating aid so they would qualify for more food stamps.
In February, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% introduced the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act (S. 2015). This bill would “address the deep problems in the federal government’s welfare programs that make it more difficult for low-income Americans to work their way into the middle class and stay there.”
Unlike President Obama and the liberals in Congress who think that raising the minimum wage is the only way to address poverty, this bill actually takes aim at helping America’s low-income individuals. By implementing new work requirements for the food stamp program and capping welfare spending, S. 2015 works towards increasing self-sufficiency and reducing government dependence.
What does the number 750 million mean to you? If you’re an American taxpayer, it should mean a lot. Every year, there is over $750 million in SNAP card and food trafficking fraud.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) 85% is doing something to change that. This Friday, he introduced the SNAP Verify Act of 2014 and stated:
The SNAP program exists to temporarily help Americans who have fallen on hard times; it is the duty of our elected officials to protect the integrity of this program and discourage abuse from those who seek to game the system. My bill simply requires the photo identification of authorized users of SNAP electronic benefit cards at the point of transaction. With over $750 million in SNAP card and food trafficking fraud each year, it is time Congress take action to address the rampant waste in this program.
Last week, the House passed the food stamp and farm bill by a vote of 251 to 166 (with 63 conservatives voting no).
Now the bill has moved to the Senate where a Tuesday vote is expected after Monday’s 72-22 vote for cloture. Conservatives need to stand strong against this wasteful spending bill.