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U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) (2nd L) speaks at a news conference about debt relief legislation with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (L), Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) (2nd R) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (R) at the U.S.
Shocker! These guys have it all wrong.
All that stuff Republicans have told you about food stamps creating unhealthy dependency? Nonsense, says a new study by University of California economist Hilary Hoynes. Hoynes and her co-authors looked at the long-term results as the food stamp program was gradually rolled out between 1961 and 1975, and found that:
... access to food stamps in utero and in early childhood leads to significant reductions in metabolic syndrome conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes) in adulthood and, for women, increases in economic self-sufficiency (increases in educational attainment, earnings, income, and decreases in welfare participation).
That's a powerful blow right there: Food stamps not only improve outcomes for both women and children, but the improvements for children will lower health care costs over entire lifetimes and the improvements for women strike directly at the heart of the dependency argument. But that's not all. Paul Rosenberg describes two other aspects of Hoynes' research:
First, she has done previous research establishing short-term benefits — not just for food stamps, but also the for the earned income tax credit — specifically, a reduction in low-birthweight babies, a significant indicator of well-being. [...] Second, she has done research into safety net program utilization over the course of economic recession and recovery, research that shows that the current levels of food stamp and other program use are in line with past history, and not a sign of any alleged “explosion” in a “culture of dependency” under Obama, as the right-wing noise machine would have it.
So food stamps improve lives now. They improve lives for years to come, including by reducing the very dependency that Republicans claim to worry about. And, as we've said again and again, there are more people on nutrition assistance now because there are fewer jobs. It's not some big growth of dependency, and the way to fix it is not to kick millions off of food stamps, as congressional Republicans are trying to do, but to create jobs, as congressional Republicans are not trying to do.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 07:18 AM PST.

Also republished by Hunger in America, "Progressive Politics:Tennessee Style" (PPTS), and Daily Kos.

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