SNAP’s 3.1 Million Person Success

Just as the minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage, government assistance programs weren’t designed to be permanent. The American way has been one of a safety net in times of need, but personal reliance as much and often as possible. Along the way, that concept became corrupted. 

Here we sit with a near-record-low unemployment rate, the lowest unemployment rate for every minority group in American history and with record-high wages. There should be fewer people on government assistance programs and that should be something to be celebrated and encouraged. Instead, as the federal government is looking to reign in use of the program from people who’ve recovered beyond the need for a safety net, the news media, and politicians who seek to politically benefit by keeping people dependent on the federal government deride it. 

Yes, the federal government is looking to tighten the reigns on SNAP. Yes, an estimated 3.1 million people currently receiving it no longer will. No, this isn’t a bad thing, it’s quite the opposite. In fact, even with this change, the SNAP program is still wildly overused. For example, these are SNAP recipients by year: 

  • 2000: 17 million
  • 2009: 27 million
  • 2011: 47.6 million
  • 2019: 40.3 million

Notice something odd here? Yes, 7.3 million people have come off of food stamps from the high in 2011 due to the economy. But, here we are in the best economy on record and 13.3 million more people are on food stamps today than at the peak of the Great Recession. That’s beyond absurd. It screams of needed reforms. During the Obama administration policy was changed to dramatically increase SNAP eligibility. During the recession, no one fought too hard against it but it’s clear today how widely abused the program has become. Even if 3.1 million people lost SNAP today, we would still have more than 10 million people on food stamps than during the peak of the Great Recession. 

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