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If there was one thing that panelists agreed upon during the€™ recent conference on poverty in DC, it wa€™s that food stamps, officially known as SNAP,  has been a resounding success in preventing more Americans from falling into poverty. That's because SNAP is countercyclical, responding to need with spending. While welfare rolls remained flat during the Great Recession, SNAP enrollment nearly doubled, as it was supposed to. That's why it's puzzling that the new version of the House Farm bill, released from committee tonight, contains a SNAP cut over the next five years.

Food stamps are good policy because they have a multiplicative effect. In fact, it almost has double the impact. A USDA study finds that for "Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates a total of $9.20 in community spending." 

It'€™s not as if the program is being overused. From 1995 to 2000, enrollment in the program dropped precipitously without a corresponding drop in the rate of poverty. Even during the current recession, in which enrollment doubled, only around 2/3 of eligible recipients took advantage of the program. The Brookings Institution speculates that this is because former welfare recipient are seldom informed that they remain eligible for food stamps. Brookings estimates €œ"in a typical month in 2001, 17.3 million people in 7.5 million households received food stamps at an annual cost of $20 billion." While that is nothing to scoff at, the annual pricetag is cheap for an effective social safety net. Particularly because it has a compelling societal purpose (preventing people from starving due to circumstances beyond their control) and is narrowly tailored to working people, usually with children.

Admittedly, the bill cuts a minuscule 2 percent from food stamps funding over the next five years. But still, during rough economic times SNAP is exactly the type of program that should be expanded rather than contracted.

When polling the public on issues of equality, Americans favor programs they perceive to promote equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcomes. For whatever reason, Americans are anomalously averse to the government ensuring equality of outcomes through redistribution, from "€œwinners"€ to "€œlosers."€ Regardless of the merits of that aversion, food stamps should be popular. Intended to ensure that children are not driven into abject poverty during a recession, SNAP certainly promotes equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcomes. With a record 37% of children under 5 at or near the poverty line, there is a good reason for the federal government to act. A child growing up hungry through no fault of their own has a dramatically diminished opportunities. It's hard to study in school when you're only thinking about your next meal.

There'€™s also a good reason that the Obama administration continues to try and increase food stamp enrollment while trimming government spending almost everywhere else. SNAP is a program that follows classic Keynesian economics. It meets need with muscle. It bolsters private demand by injecting cash directly into the market. And it distributes funds through state governments. Food stamps represent the best way to conduct stimulus in accordance with American values. National in scope and federal in implementation, SNAP has been an unambiguous success.We're in a period of unprecedentedly high levels of poverty, at least for the past fifty years. The poor need food stamps.

For more context about poverty in America, you should take a look at Demos' interactive visual of the past fifty years of poverty data. We should be acting now to reduce the unprecedented levels of poverty, and we have a program that has been proven to work.

Originally posted to Cup of Joe on Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 08:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Agreed with your premise... (13+ / 0-)

    ...but the farm bill as the House has it cuts 3.2% of the food stamp budget and will put 1.8 million to 3 million Americans off the food stamp rolls.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 10:47:00 PM PDT

  •  Thank you. I used this for talking points just (8+ / 0-)


    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 11:15:49 PM PDT

  •  Food stamps also keep farmers in business (14+ / 0-)

    People who get them will reliably spend them immediately, leading to a steady income for those that raise and sell the food.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 02:50:26 AM PDT

  •  Food "Stamps" benefits are a classic... (12+ / 0-)

    ...multiplier/economic booster.

    More bang for the Federal buck than almost any other program/distribution.

    Poor and middle class spend what they get, and the rich tend not to.  That is a fact.

    Aldus Shrugged : The Antidote to Ayn Rand. @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 05:35:59 AM PDT

  •  Or we could just give the people cash (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    luckydog, Blueslide, LSophia, kyril

    you know, like they do in most countries . .. .

    Or are poor Americans too stupid for that?  No, I didn't think so.

    •  [snark] (13+ / 0-)

      Oh, you can't give poor people cash!  They won't spend it on food for their kids - they'll spend it on cigarettes and beer and drugs and Cadillacs!! [/snark]

      Actually, maybe that's not snark - a lot of conservatives honestly believe that you have to specify exactly what welfare monies can be spent on, or the recipient will "waste" it on "luxuries" instead of "needs."

      God, I hate the fucking Puritans - they're still making people miserable 300 years later....

      •  When I saw the title of this diary, I first (4+ / 0-)

        thought this was exactly the type of expansion proposed:

        they'll spend it on cigarettes and beer and drugs
        after all, most of those things are made right here in the USA and would also have a good multiplier effect economically speaking.
        •  doesn't help the kids much, though, does it? (5+ / 0-)

          If you really don't believe  there are parents who would spend cash on cigs and booze before food for their kids, well.. I've got a bridge in Brooklyn you may be interested in.. cheap!

          •  This diary wasn't about helping kids, it (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaharazade, Calamity Jean, LSophia, kyril

            was about economic stimulus.

            And guess what, I was in Canada - a country that is full of the dumbest dumbasses on the planet (how else do you explain Terry Jacks, Celine Dion, constant hockey riots, etc etc) - and they give $$s directly to their recipient of government aid.

            Seriously, if it works there, I refuse to believe that people here are worse and less responsible.  It just isn't possible.

            •  People in the US have a lot more crap to buy (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Gorette, jakebob

              and marketed to them. I would wager that nowhere else in the world are the temptations to buy unnecessary stuff so in-your-face.

              •  Have you been to Japan or Hong Kong? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                •  No but I'm very famliar with the genre of (3+ / 0-)

                  advertising, and I have to say that louder doesn't necessarily translate into "more" and the culture to whom you're speaking to matters as well. You can't buy all that much stuff when you live in a shoebox in HK.

                  •  Just curious - just how much beer, cigarettes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    and drugs did you have in mind such that they won't fit into the shoe-boxed size apartment?

                    •  I thought we weren't assuming they would buy (2+ / 0-)

                      that sort of thing with cash vs. SNAP? Not sure where you're going with this. I don't assume that the cash would be misused for beer as much as I assume they could be talked into "needing" a satellite dish or predatory crap life insurance policy or the latest exercise ball.

                      •  If you follow this subthread all the way up (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        or maybe jump slightly to the left, I'm pretty sure it's about beer, cigarettes, and/or drugs.

                        e.g, things that will provide economic stimulus to the US economy.

                        But you're totally correct, if these funds might be used for satellite dishes or excercise balls - both of which are totally unlikely to be made domestically - it's best to put the kiboosh on the scheme from the getgo.

                        •  Yeah I'm lost. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          I thought originally you were criticizing the thinking that Americans were too stupid to buy the right things with cash payments. Seems though that you'd rather have them buy cigs/beer because it's at least likely the cash is mostly staying stateside.

                          While I would never deny someone who is working their butt off just to be poor a cold one or a relaxing cigarette, I would guess they should not be priorities over good food.

                    •  You do realize food stamps are for non-tax (0+ / 0-)

                      items only, right? I didn't read all the back and forth but this is bugging me.

                      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

                      by Gorette on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 09:12:15 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Interesting you've never recommended any (0+ / 0-)

                      comment. Wow. And you've been here a little longer than I have. We both joined in 2005. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

                      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

                      by Gorette on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 09:19:37 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  I have been to Japan (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  trueblueliberal, LSophia

                  The advertising seemed quite similar in Tokyo, not so much in billboards in the smaller cities.

                  Then there is the Japanese cultural fascination with food. Really good food. (Mostly, I did take a bite of one popular treat and called it a Japanese Twinkee.) Lots of vegetables, fish, better fats.

                  Also the reality that even the middle class lives in shoe box size apartments. Families congregate in restaurants for gatherings (or public parks in good weather) because none have the room to meet in a home. That goes for entertaining friends and coworkers too.

                  It isn't just the beer and cigs, that Americans are tempted to buy. Furniture, clothes (yeah, rooms full - at least in many home care patients houses) TV/stereo systems, jewelry, sports/fitness equipment, not to mention hair/nail care.

                  "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

                  by Ginny in CO on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 11:52:55 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  After following this thread, I have to (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              trueblueliberal, blueoasis

              agree you totally lost me with Terry Jacks, Celine, etc.

              It isn't so much that people here are worse or whatever. People in Canada don't have to deal with health care expenses, which I don't think are covered by getting the $ directly. Some parents here would be facing the choice of splitting the money for food, medicine, doctor visits.

              America is a different culture altogether. Good, bad or indifferent, there are some things that need different approaches. Trying to get the RW to accept the idea that welfare recipients should get cash for food is a battle not worth fighting.

              The decrease, whatever the %, is quite a disconnect. Fully incomprehensible in the comparison of tax cuts to the wealthy, given the assessments of how poorly the current benefits cover food expenses as it is. Just how much higher a tax rate on the wealth would cover maintaining the food stamp program, or even a sufficient increase?

              We are now hearing that due to the drought, corn yields will be very low, food prices will go up even more. Food stamps are not going to help the farmers much when they can't grow crops.

              The huge problem for children going hungry is the impact on growth and development.

              -The stress interferes with proper brain development in the early years, which cannot be recovered, ever.
              -The pain interferes with learning, setting them back. If it continues for a long enough time, many will never be able to recover in the overall reality of our system: the rich prosper through tax and business subsidies, the poor suffer through lack of reasonable opportunity to work hard enough to succeed. The safety net programs are too little, spread too thin.
              -The inadequate nutrient levels of a food stamp diet only add to the child's growth and development problems. Setting them up for a life time of medical problems.

              These kids are already more prone to environmental diseases in childhood. When they hit middle age, the chronic diseases start developing much earlier than middle or upper classes.

              They become the 1% fodder for dead end, minimum wage jobs, soldiers for wars the 1% profit from, and residents of for profit prisons. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are pretty much limited to a squalid life for this group.

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 11:34:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Ummm yeah right (12+ / 0-)

            but the same people that bitch and moan about parents with poor priorities as heads of households also bitch that access to birth control and safe legal abortions should not be allowed. So they don't get it both ways do they? Make sure people have kids and then cry about the lousy parenting skills is stupid.

            But by all means, let's hear Americans complain about the cost of food stamps and force cuts on poor people in these hard times. They would rather shit all over poor people then insist the well off return to modest tax rates.

            -7.5 -7.28, A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.-Don Van Vliet

            by Blueslide on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:19:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hear hear. (5+ / 0-)

              Cut government programs and then complain that the programs don't work.

              •  Make it really hard to get contraceptives (7+ / 0-)

                then complain poor people have too many kids.

                •  or eat cheap bad food (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  trueblueliberal, LSophia, blueoasis, kyril

                  that tends to make them obese. There is also the fact that really poor people do not have access to good affordable stores or nutritional education. Kids especially are bombarded with ads via the TV of sugar laden crap passed off as food.

                  When I was young desperately poor and had tiny kids I received food from the government not stamps but welfare food. It was horrible nasty toxic food, the worst being generic cans that said MEAT on the label. Even the dog refused to eat whatever it was. I was a vegetarian health food nut and when they switched to food stamps I was thrilled.

                   It was great it allowed me to feed us healthy and I had enough money left from my meager pay checks to buy toilet paper, roll your own tobacco and an occasional bottle of wine. Also enough gas to get to the welfare office to get my grilling and certification abuse. Why punish low income people for their vices?  

                  They are after all like everybody else human's and diverse. If you are living on this level your likely to need a drink now and then. Why dictate to them what they can and can't do. God knows they are certainly limited by their plight in this vicious society that loves to punish and thinks that poverty is a crime or a matter of 'bad choices'. Like these people have any choices and the few they do have are withheld cause they should suffer sober and tobacco free.          

                  •  I don't believe we should subsidize any vices. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dr Swig Mcjigger, kyril

                    But I also don't believe it's often worth the extra time and expense to make sure funds to support the poor are not misused.

                    Before you get really really angry, I'm sure you would agree that:

                    1. We should dictate that no funds used to bail out companies be used for any bonuses, executive recreation, or other fringe benefits for the white collars

                    2. That SNAP benefits not be able to be used at McD's, BK, etc.

                    •  Easy to say that Snap (6+ / 0-)

                      should not go to buy prepared meals of any sort, or just of the places you look down on.

                      A lot of poor people live in housing situations that do not permit them to store or prepare ingredients. If you don't have a refrigerator or a microwave, and your landlord does not permit you to keep food in the room, it's pretty limiting what your diet will consist of.

                      •  They're dying either way then. (3+ / 0-)

                        I can see why it would be a problem for poor folks who live in food deserts, but the % of people who are so poor that even on assistance they cannot afford housing that will allow them to have a microwave or any food (canned?) in their spaces has to be extremely small.

                        Can you give some examples of folks who are too poor to afford an apartment or other private situation that can at least provide a microwave and/or outlets for a griddle, but cannot qualify for housing benefits? And %'s?

                        I know people will eat crap to fill their bellies, but it's not the long-term solution for sure.

                        •  The long term solution would be (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Blueslide, LSophia, blueoasis, shaharazade

                          Universal Healthcare, a mandated-by-law living wage (not just a minimum wage), getting the homeless off the street and into houses/shelters/institutions where they can have support and treatment if necessary for their physical and mental disabilities, and a social safety net that does not allow people to fall through the cracks.  If this was the case we would not even be having this conversation about what the poor can and cannot buy.

                        •  Apartments generally require (5+ / 0-)

                          first and last month's rent, plus a security deposit in order to move in.  They may also require a verifiable income that is between 2.5 and 3 times the amount of the rent.

                          I spent three interminable years as an apartment manager, so I know this only too well.  I felt like Satan's secretary, turning some of these people down.  

                          Many poor people cannot get the funds together to get an apartment with an actual kitchen, so they live in motel rooms instead, with coffeemakers, mini-fridges and microwaves.  Plus, they may be working two or three part-time jobs, and don't have the time to shop or cook healthy meals, so they grab the readily available cheap, crappy processed junk for the comfort, taste and fuel.

                        •  Any childless legally-non-disabled adult (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          shaharazade, pale cold

                          who becomes homeless in almost any state will fit your criteria.

                          (That includes people with disabilities that are undiagnosed due to lack of health care, recently diagnosed, or in the 6-18 month paperwork pipeline for SSDI/SSI.)

                          Also, homeless people with children or disabilities will have to survive for several years (I've seen quotes of up to 8 years!) while they're on the waiting list for Section 8 or public housing.

                          but the % of people who are so poor that even on assistance they cannot afford housing that will allow them to have a microwave or any food (canned?) in their spaces has to be extremely small.
                          It's really not. People often overestimate the strength of the social safety net. For people with children or disabilities, it sucks. For childless non-disabled adults, it doesn't exist. Except for food stamps (in some states, and at an absurdly low benefit rate.)

                          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                          by kyril on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:08:09 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  We're talking about two things here: (0+ / 0-)

                            Being literally homeless is different than having housing that doesn't let you have at least a microwave/griddle.

                            I don't want people to starve, but I don't want them poisoning themselves either. Eating shit every day will kill them, and it'll be a bad death, and likely more expensive in ER costs than it would've been to give them a meager housing benefit, or increase in one.

                            Obviously total reform is important, but I'm not sure we should spend money to help people kill themselves in the meantime.

                          •  There's not much distinction (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Being literally homeless is different than having housing that doesn't let you have at least a microwave/griddle.
                            Most people who are "literally homeless" nevertheless sleep indoors most nights. Sometimes even in the same place. Most people who are "literally homeless" don't get counted in homelessness figures...but if you don't have a kid or a disability, you pretty much have to be homeless (or in a living situation that's almost indistinguishable from it) to qualify for more than a nominal amount of food stamp benefits outside the most generous states. The income cutoff is too low to even qualify to lease a room in any coastal city.

                            As for paying for people to kill themselves, that's simply absurd. Malnutrition kills a hell of a lot faster than heart disease.

                            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                            by kyril on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:47:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Fast food only is malnutrition. nt (0+ / 0-)
                          •  You can't get fast food (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            kyril, shaharazade

                            with food stamps. Not in any state I know about anyway. You can't even get hot prepared food at the deli counter. You can get a deli sub in some states at a grocery store, but not a hot meal.

                            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                            by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:15:06 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Cool, not sure why it was brought up then. nt (0+ / 0-)
                          •  It's a common misconception/talking point (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            GoGoGoEverton, kyril

                            People say "people on food stamps shouldn't be able to buy junk food" and other people assume 'junk food' means fast food. And then it takes off from there.

                            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                            by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:29:46 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  GoGoGo brought it up (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            I'm not sure if GoGoGo is (was) aware that Snap cannot be used to buy meals at fast food establisments when saying people shouldn't be allowed to use them for that. But I personally am ambivalent about it, considering that fast food can be healthier than some of the crap you get at a convenience store.

                          •  I'm not talking yuppie #FWP malnutrition (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            I'm talking actual caloric and macronutrient deficiency.

                            When your food source choices, after your soup kitchen meals 2-3 days a week, are a convenience store and a couple of fast food places, you can survive a whole lot longer with free choice among those limited offerings than you could if the only things you could buy were those sad-looking pieces of fruit at the convenience store.

                            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                            by kyril on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:20:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  Hear, here, hear! They would indeed. (0+ / 0-)

                "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

                by Gorette on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 09:14:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Horrors! (8+ / 0-)

        They might spend it on a toaster, or a refrigerator, luxuries they don't deserve.

      •  My pastor nephew's wife thinks drug testing (8+ / 0-)

        for food stamps is a good idea because (1) people use them to get drugs, and (2) she's seen people trade food purchases with friends for non-food necessities such as cleaning products! I gave her quite a long response!

        With Christians like these......

        Then last night saw same thing on cousin's FB. There I just said, "Thanks. I'll be one who gets tested then."

        She will not respond. I just hope they are ashamed of themselves.

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 09:10:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Good luck (3+ / 0-)

      Selling that to the public. Anyway, now that they come on cards and so many places accept them, they are close to being as good as cash as we'll get and make sure that they money is spent on better things than cigarettes.

      •  Exactly. Just because others do it doesn't mean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Swig Mcjigger

        we have to, or it's best to.

        It's just like healthcare...we need to make sure everyone has the access they need, but let's not go down the road of "Britain's system" or "Germany's system"...let's get it right for US.

        •  heh? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cassandracarolina, kyril

          Tell me this is snark. Who's this US your speaking of? I like the French public health system myself. It's a hybrid mainly non profit but with some private. Access they can't afford is more like it. What kind of society cuts food stamps off while they spend billions on war's of preemptive madness?

          Best to let the poor be hungry or eat 'affordable' junk food cause we don't have to be like other countries. We're special we criminalize the poor while lecturing them on their lazy ways and bad habits. I would rather have the taxes I pay go to feeding people and universal health care then to banksters, TBTF and the masters of war.

          The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. In its 2000 assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that France provided the "best overall health care" in the world. In 2005, France spent 11.2% of GDP on health care, or US$3,926 per capita, a figure much higher than the average spent by countries in Europe but less than in the US. Approximately 77% of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.

          Most general physicians are in private practice but draw their income from the public insurance funds. These funds, unlike their German counterparts, have never gained self-management responsibility. Instead, the government has taken responsibility for the financial and operational management of health insurance (by setting premium levels related to income and determining the prices of goods and services refunded). The French National Health Service generally refunds patients 70% of most health care costs, and 100% in case of costly or long-term ailments. Supplemental coverage may be bought from private insurers, most of them nonprofit, mutual insurers. Until recently, coverage was restricted to those who contributed to social security (generally, workers or retirees), excluding some poor segments of the population; the government of Lionel Jospin put into place "universal health coverage" and extended the coverage to all those legally resident in France. Only about 3.7% of hospital treatment costs are reimbursed through private insurance, but a much higher share of the cost of spectacles and prostheses (21.9%), drugs (18.6%) and dental care (35.9%) (Figures from the year 2000). There are public hospitals, non-profit independent hospitals (which are linked to the public system), as well as private for-profit hospitals.

          Average life expectancy in France at birth is 81 years.


          •  This is what I got from your comment: (0+ / 0-)

            1. You didn't read the original comment; we're talking about SNAP benefit cards vs. handing out cash payments

            2. You think your opinion is best on healthcare systems. Ironically I lean toward hybrids like France/Germany/Australia, but as we hopefully continue to move toward universal access I'm going to keep an open mind as to what works best for our country, given the populations, geography, etc.

            •  I think my opinion on healthcare systems is best (4+ / 0-)

              of all.

              We are so scraping the bottom of the barrel in this country, even with ACA, that almost any other civilized country's system would be an improvement.

            •  I see (7+ / 0-)

              it's the don't give the poor money as they will just misuse it theory. Lordy we can't have the welfare queens or lazy people running around with cash in their pockets making bad choices on what to spend it on. You do know that they are in the process of cutting SNAP to the tune of 16bn?

              As for cash or cards if they do have cards they ought to at least be able to buy toilet paper with them. How humiliating and dehumanizing for those who need help to have to jump through hoops and have no vices so that they are worthy of being recipients of our tax money. Do the bail out's we give to criminal fraudsters have restriction's forbidding  spending their millions on ciggies lattes and booze?  Punitive charity.  I say we damn well ought to give people help in an economy like this and cash or cards should not be with stipulations that are 'moral'.      

          •  You are aware that anything "Wiki" related is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            not reliable. It should never be used to quote or validate an arguement. Perhaps a more current (more objective) profile of how the French population is currently fairing is in order...and then reveiw America's profile.

            Just my 2 cents....

            France Demographics Profile

            American Demographics Profile (US Census)

    •  Many other countries also subsidize food (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, LSophia, kyril

      for the poor in other ways.

      I wonder what would have happened if the negative income tax had become law?

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 08:07:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If we have a neg tax and are distributing cash (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gorette, kyril

        isn't that really just making up for the fact that everything is screwy to begin with?

        If we had more equitable distribution of profit on the front end, and more American-centric (though still fair to the little guys) trade policy to promote domestic job growth and manufacturing, maybe we wouldn't need to be talking about handing out cash and paying people because they were born here.

  •  But they DONT want more stimulus. n/t (7+ / 0-)

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:05:40 AM PDT

  •  A framing opportunity here! (10+ / 0-)

    The Republicans want to drive the family farmer out of business. Yes, since so many farmers' markets, at least in my part of California, can negotiate EBT cards (food stamps), you cut benefits and that hurts farmers.  Sometimes you just have to turn the telscope in another direction.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:15:09 AM PDT

  •  "hard to study in school when you're only..." (13+ / 0-)

    ...thinking about your next meal."

    No offense, this framing omits and even sorta trivializes the effects of hunger and chronic malnutrition.

    Meaning, the serious and persistent physiologic effects of hunger and chronic malnutrition combine to prevent children from being able to focus.

    It's not that a hungry child's mind is wandering, or that a hungry child will have flights of fantasy about food - tho' that will happen.

    It's that the brain cannot function properly - nor develop properly - without fuel it needs to keep working AND the molecules that the body turns into chemical messages AND the molecules that turn those chemical messages off and on.

    The child staring off into space and day-dreaming about food? It may not be so much a day-dream. It may be that the brain is partially shut-down for lack of fuel and messengers.

  •  my household could maybe get food stamps (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, kyril

    but as long as we can buy the food,we will never get them.

  •  Food Stamp Reform (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Swig Mcjigger

    I strongly support food stamps.  I favor increasing the benefits, but we need to reform what products can be purchased with stamps as well.  Buying junk food with them should be eliminated or severely limited.

    •  There are food deserts. Sometimes that's the only (5+ / 0-)

      food available in lower income areas...unfortunately.

      Solve the food desert crisis first, then begin to restrict where the aid can be spent.

    •  Who will decide what is "junk" food? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, kyril, pale cold

      What would the criteria be?  That is a very slippery slope to go down; where would the line be drawn? What about the ingredients to make "junk food" at home? The same ingredients to make any number of junk foods are the same as nutritious foods, just prepared differently.  Ultimately, calls to restrict SNAP even further than it is already are nothing more than variations of "cadillac-driving welfare queens", that the poor are irresponsible with the money that taxpayers graciously give them and will just buy "junk" with it.  If you are really concerned about more than the poor wasting your money how about advocating for more and better education about food and nutritional choices available for purchase under the SNAP program?

      •  we can make some judgments (0+ / 0-)

        It's not really that hard to determine that certain foods, if that they can be called are "junk.' Soda, for example, has virtually no nutritional value, is loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, assuming it is not a diet soda and is generally bad for anyone, kid or adult, rich or poor. I think we can say that soda and chips are "junk" although there are things like chicken nuggets and fries which aren't as clear cut.

        •  Chips are not as clear cut either as you would (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, kyril

          think-sure the basic deep-fried potato drenched in salt is about as close to empty calories as you can get, but there are now so many variations available for "chips" where do you draw that line? Will SNAP only pay for baked chips, or do they have to be baked, unsalted chips? What about some of those fancy veggie chips at Trader Joe's that really do have more than just empty calories? Ultimately, talking about restricting the kinds of food eligible for SNAP is still really moralizing and judging by the contents of the grocery basket without addressing the wider issues that fill that basket with food you don't approve of.

        •  So you're saying.. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, gnbhull, kyril, pale cold

          I shouldn't be able to buy soda for my child's birthday, or to prop up my son's blood sugar when he's crashing and needs a fast boost while we're walking the 3 miles to the grocery store with a convenience store on the way? Why do you get to judge what I buy? Why should my kids be denied the occasional bag of chips or soda just because we use food stamps? And no, I can't always buy those things with cash. Sometimes I have no cash, or the cash is reserved for bills or buying the small present to go with the cake and soda for the birthday.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:17:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  we get to judge (0+ / 0-)

            because we are paying for it. Congress has the right to attach conditions when it appropriates funds.

            •  So then... (0+ / 0-)

              You think you should get to judge about who receives what medical care, what doctor's decisions are made about that care.... If someone gets medicare or medicaid, those decisions should be regulated as well right? How about people on section 8, do you get to judge what furniture they use in their house or how many visitors they can have a time? What about utility assistance, do you get to decide who they can call? What they can use the electricity for?

              Yes, CONGRESS gets to attach conditions, and they already have. No hot ready foods (like rotisserie chicken sold in grocery stores), no fast food... etc are already there as limits. Used to be you couldn't get deli or bakery items in my state, but they lifted those years ago.
               But no, you don't get to judge that my child can't have a bag of m&m's as a reward for being good for an all day shopping trip. You don't get to say what my child can have for their birthday celebration. And you don't get to tell my severely hypoglycemic son he can't have something to raise his blood sugar while he's digesting the protein and slow sugar he's eating as well so that he doesn't collapse on the 1 hour walk in 98 degree temps to the grocery store. Sorry.
              I paid taxes my whole working life as well into this system. My room mate still works and pays taxes into it, so do both my parents, my sisters, my numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. So will my kids when they grow up. So no, you don't get to judge.

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:45:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No (0+ / 0-)

                With taxpayer funds, I would agree that I do, for something as frivelous and unhealthy as a bag of M & Ms. If Congress were to restrict the purchase of candy with SNAP, I would have no problem with this. Childhood obesity is a major problem in this country as is diabetes. Candy contribues greatly to this problem. Why should we be subdisidizing anyone's bad health decisions?

                But no, you don't get to judge that my child can't have a bag of m&m's as a reward for being good for an all day shopping trip
                •  A problem with this... (0+ / 0-)

                  NEITHER of my kids is remotely over weight. As a matter of fact, for years my daughter was under weight because she was born under weight and we struggled with weight gain. My son is severely hypoglycemic. He's at a good weight now, but again, he's skinny, always has been. You are assuming my kids are obese because I let them have candy. One pack of m&m's doesn't make anyone obese. You assume all my kids eat is junk food just because I'm on food stamps. You assume I can't make good decisions for my kids and that THEY can't make good decisions on what they eat because we are food stamps. That's YOU judging, not congress. My son, for example is 6 foot tall and weighs 160. My daughter is almost 5 foot tall and weighs 65 lbs. Both of them would take fruit or nuts over candy 80% of the time. Sometimes however, fruit isn't an option when my son's sugar drops, because the place we are at just doesn't sell it. Making him wait until we get to the bigger store will literally put him in a coma.

                  This is why you don't get to judge. Congress can set limits, but I'll vote against those who would set unreasonable limits every time. You don't get to judge where your tax dollars go that specifically however any more than I do.

                  "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                  by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:02:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No (0+ / 0-)

                    I am not making any assumptions about your kids, but this doesn't change the fact that childhood obesity is a problem, as well as adult obesity and that diabetes is rising as well. It doesn't change the fact that candy is a major contributor to both problems. Your kids may well be find, but that doesn't mean government funding should be used to subsidize a problem.

              •  We make these decisions every day (0+ / 0-)

                Through our elected officials:

                You think you should get to judge about who receives what medical care, what doctor's decisions are made about that care.... If someone gets medicare or medicaid, those decisions should be regulated as well right? How
                Both Medicare and Medicaid limit what procedures and medicines will be covered and how much, if anything, the taxpayers will pay. Private health insurance does this as well. You can argue about the fairness of this, but these types of judgments are made on a regular basis. So are decisions about what you can do in Section 8 Housing, for example.
      •  I advocate both (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Swig Mcjigger

        I advocate restrictions on what can be bought along with increased resources to educate everyone on making better food and nutritional choices.

        While what is or isn't nutritious can be debated, I don't think it's unreasonable to say that candy shouldn't be allowed to be purchased with food stamps.

        •  Good to advocate for education, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, blueoasis, gnbhull, kyril

          but now you want to include candy in your list of forbidden items? OK, your list now has soda, chips and candy on it.  While your at it, how about everything made by Hostess? Entenmenns? Sara Lee? Better yet, how about just forbidding those 4 lb bags of sugar, or baking supplies in general? You see once you start talking about forbidding some food it will become all or nothing for the poor since it won't stop at just soda and chips.  You could justify banning about any food from the SNAP program based on it's relative junkiness or potential to be junk food.  And really, having a list of foods you can't buy with SNAP is just another way to look down on the poor and impose supposed moral superiority on an entire swath of the population whose sole offense is being poor.  

        •  So no candy.. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, gnbhull, kyril

          again, there goes my son's blood sugar in a crisis. Sometimes he needs that fast rush of sugar. What about a diabetic in a sugar dive? Do you make exceptions for them? Hard candy to help a sore throat? What about a reward for being good on the 2 hour bus ride? Is that allowed? Or a pregnant woman with a craving for skittles? A teen girl pmsing and craving chocolate? Am I still allowed to bake? Buy sugar for in my tea and the kids' kool aid? What about flour? Syrup for pancakes? Where do you get to stop judging what I buy? I'm deathly allergic to nutrisweet, so if you ban all sugar I guess I'm just SOL on ever having any comfort food of any sort aren't I? No more celebrating anything. May as well be in prison.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:22:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Instead, just set fruits/veggies as costing half. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, FloridaSNMOM

      Spending $50 on veggies would only decrease your EBT balance by $25.

      •  Now, that's actually a good idea (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, 2020adam

        Matching funds, 50 cents added to the card for every dollar spent on fresh produce.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:18:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Discounts on healthier foods (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I could get behind. That would make buying such foods much more of a possibility, especially fresh. I tend to buy frozen because it's a lot cheaper to buy a frozen bag of mixed vegetables then buy all of those vegetables fresh and have them go bad before I use all of them.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:18:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Cutting food stamps is now a bipartisan effort (4+ / 0-)

    Recently faced with an opportunity to restore the $4.5 billion cut to SNAP via amendment, the Senate refused to approve it by a margin of 33-66, with bipartisan support on both sides. There are 66 Senators of both parties who would rather see children, the elderly, and the disabled go hungry, so that our corporate welfare system can prop up crop insurers with additional profit. The only lesson that I can take from this latest display is that at least two-thirds of the Senate (including Democrats) is outright spiteful towards our most vulnerable Americans.

    silence is not an effective political strategy

    by nik12 on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 12:35:41 PM PDT

  •  Ya know, this discussion of "Food Stamps" (2+ / 0-)

    takes me back to my teen years (in Detroit) when the government used to issue them in paper form. We had neighbors (and knew many more) who would get them at the first of the month and then turn around and sell them not soon after stepping outside of the foodstamp office. They also did this with the cheese blocks the government used to give out too. ($5 a block)

    And hunger and poverty were just as big of an issue then as it is now.

    Which is why I will never truly understood how selling your food lifeline for cash trumped getting and keeping food on the table.

    •  Gee, poor people needing cash money, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CupofJoe, blueoasis, kyril

      who'd a thunk?  While you don't come out and say it outright your post insinuates that those poor people were selling their food stamps to pay for vices.  I won't argue that, but there are a lot of other reasons poor people need cash, like making rent, getting to work, school supplies, doing laundry, maybe buying their kid a couple of things for their birthday, or even toilet paper and soap.  Surely, if they were your neighbors, you would know if they were starving their kids by selling their food stamps as you suggest.  Poor parents have to make some really hard decisions and like everyone they are not perfect but just trying to do the best they can.

    •  Ever been poor? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pale cold

      You can usually dig up something resembling food, somewhere, most days. This country is swimming in food. Cash to pay the rent, though, is not as forthcoming.

      (The sane solution to that dilemma would be to improve the rest of the safety net - if people had enough money to pay for necessities, they wouldn't sell their food stamps, and so they wouldn't need to turn to private charities for food, reducing the strain on food banks and soup kitchens.)

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:24:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've traded (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, sweettp2063

        a gallon of milk for a 12 pack of toilet paper in the past. I believe that was WIC milk though, when my son was allergic to it but they didn't yet have an allowance for soy milk (soy formula yes, soy milk no). They still gave me 4 gallons of milk a month and there was no way that I was drinking that much on my own. And I needed the TP.
        People often do the same thing with food stamps. You trade a little food for a ride to the grocery store so you can get your dairy home without it spoiling, or you trade food for cleaning supplies, or toiletries. This is what you do to get by when you're desperate.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:26:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  DANG IT! (4+ / 0-)

    If we cannot feed our own poor what good are we as a country?

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