The Welfare Bonus

Posted: 20/05/2009 in Uncategorized
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I came across an interesting article today at the Stateline.org site regarding the multibillion dollar Food Stamp bonanza the states have been pushing to get from the bogus, and ill founded stimulus package enacted earlier this year. Where the money will come from to foot the food bill is anybody’s guess, but the money has been spent. According to the article, the writer says that “experts say is more likely than any other stimulus program to jolt the moribund economy back to life.”

Also; “People who receive these benefits are hard-pressed and will spend any financial aid they receive very quickly,” said Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi. Every $1 spent on the food assistance program adds $1.73 to local economies because an uptick in food sales creates related jobs and further consumer spending.

And; In April, 32.5 million low-income recipients got their first monthly bonus — a 13.5 percent increase in benefits, averaging about $20 more per person — under the Obama administration’s stimulus plan.  Slated to pump $20 billion into the market over five years, the stimulus plan gives each recipient more buying power but does not affect the number of enrollees.

So how do these people rate? I don’t get a 13.5% raise in my paycheck from the boss, why should they? I don’t have a problem helping people who are needy, such as being hungry and needing clothing and shelter, but wouldn’t it be better to put that money to use providing employment opportunities? Not so, says the writer, Christine Vestal. She writes; “It’s smart for states to promote food stamps, because that and unemployment checks often are enough to delay the need for other types of public assistance — such as welfare and Medicaid — that put pressure on state budgets,” said poverty expert Sheri Steisel at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

There are lots of ways to help put the economy back in order, but I do not believe a double digit increase in the amount of welfare payment the recipient gets is going to really accomplish anything of lasting value. It sounds to me like we’ve become a nation eager to rob Peter, just so we can pay Paul, as the old saying goes. Why do we have to keep increasing the level of poverty in what was once, and still is in my mind, the greatest nation on earth?

Why is it that we cannot use these funds going towards welfare recipients to develop some sort of program that creates employment opportunities? Like I said, I’ve no problem helping people, but isn’t there a greater benefit in helping them get ahead than in just helping them get by?

The article goes on to say; “Last year, the Food Stamp program — recently renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP — served 28 million people nationwide, at a price of $36 billion. In the 12 months ending February 2009, the rolls spiked by 17.4 percent, helping 4.8 million more low-income people pay for groceries — more than in any year since the program began in 1964.” 

Funny how it is that even with the numbers of recipients as high as it is, the states claim that there are millions more who are eligible for this assistance, but are not receiving these food stamp funds, and have not applied. Vestal goes on to write “Despite these efforts, only 60 percent of eligible Americans received food stamps in 2004, the most recent year data are available.”

So what is the real scoop behind this welfare gravy train? How much more are these recipients receiving from these billions of dollars? And exactly how much is really going back into the local economies? After all, the point behind this stimulus package was supposed to put money into the economy. According to Vestal, “The dollar value of food stamps an individual or family can receive is based primarily on income, with benefits ranging from a minimum of $16 per month for an individual to $176 per month for those making under $13,000 per year, and as much as $1,058 for a family of eight, making less than $45,000 per year. A family of four, making less than $27,000, can receive up to $588 per month, according to USDA. For individuals, the stimulus plan adds $24 a month to their debit cards; families of four get an additional $80, families of eight get $144, and larger families get $18 for each additional member.”

So what does this look like here in the Independent Socialist Nation of Maine? Or any other state? Check out this table from the USDA

  FOOD STAMP RECIPIENTS BY STATE

The recession added 4.8 million people to Food Stamp program rolls in the 12 months ending February 2009. The increase exceeded 30 percent in Florida, Idaho, Nevada and Utah.

State

Feb. 2008

Feb. 2009

Change

Idaho

98,613

132,777

34.60%

Utah

130,942

173,916

32.80%

Nevada

139,266

182,949

31.40%

Florida

1,407,409

1,842,181

30.90%

Arizona

606,563

772,534

27.40%

Washington

576,136

733,920

27.40%

Wisconsin

410,210

521,390

27.10%

Vermont

55,247

69,029

24.90%

Georgia

986,643

1,230,960

24.80%

Maryland

350,997

434,339

23.70%

Oregon

454,752

561,331

23.40%

Massachusetts

493,498

607,512

23.10%

Colorado

248,662

304,682

22.50%

Texas

2,431,025

2,932,224

20.60%

California

2,176,434

2,588,728

18.90%

North Carolina

927,714

1,102,385

18.80%

Delaware

72,908

86,502

18.60%

New Hampshire

63,255

74,757

18.20%

New Mexico

234,765

277,045

18.00%

Hawaii

94,775

110,915

17.00%

New York

1,927,903

2,246,664

16.50%

Tennessee

890,020

1,035,894

16.40%

Virginia

539,392

628,039

16.40%

Alabama

563,674

654,335

16.10%

Ohio

1,126,397

1,307,285

16.10%

South Carolina

577,145

667,944

15.70%

Iowa

250,999

289,286

15.30%

Rhode Island

84,339

97,207

15.30%

Missouri

876,031

1,009,334

15.20%

District of Columbia

88,203

101,494

15.10%

Kansas

183,902

210,524

14.50%

Virgin Islands

13,570

15,406

13.50%

Maine

173,932

196,006

12.70%

New Jersey

429,344

483,832

12.70%

Minnesota

291,663

327,357

12.20%

Indiana

608,404

679,420

11.70%

Pennsylvania

1,176,463

1,312,566

11.60%

Michigan

1,251,724

1,395,668

11.50%

Illinois

1,286,507

1,433,163

11.40%

South Dakota

63,335

70,569

11.40%

Wyoming

22,695

25,253

11.30%

Mississippi

439,373

488,264

11.10%

Connecticut

222,730

247,159

11.00%

Kentucky

624,424

689,088

10.40%

Montana

80,525

88,548

10.00%

Guam

27,486

30,105

9.50%

Alaska

58,153

63,592

9.40%

West Virginia

274,487

299,604

9.20%

Nebraska

121,167

129,740

7.10%

Arkansas

373,333

399,347

7.00%

Oklahoma

419,260

446,571

6.50%

North Dakota

48,481

51,501

6.20%

Louisiana

655,828

693,954

5.80%

     Total

27,730,703

32,554,795

17.40%

Source: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service

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