The Food Stamp President
Since President Barack Obama took office in 2008 the enrollment in the Food Stamp program has increased by 70 percent to a record 47.8 million as of December 2012. The biggest factor behind the upward march of food stamps is a sluggish job market and a rising poverty rate.
The food-stamp rolls have swollen since 2008 and are projected to stay that way for years. In 2008, SNAP enrollment was 28.2 million. Unemployment peaked in October 2009 at 10% and was at 7.7% as of February, but SNAP kept growing. The Congressional Budget Office predicts unemployment will drop to 5.6% by 2017 but that SNAP enrollment will drop slightly to 43.3 million people, down 4.5 million from the current level.
Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the Department of Agriculture, said SNAP is working as designed, expanding to extend benefits to more Americans as poverty levels increase.
While the perception may be different, the actual raw numbers, almost 50 million people [under the federal poverty level], is certainly one of the principal reasons why we see the enrollment increases in the SNAP program – Kevin Concannon
The government spent a record $74.6 billion on SNAP benefits last year, roughly equivalent to the combined budgets of the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Department of the Interior. Roughly 45% of recipients are children. In 2007, the government spent $30.4 billion on the program. Food stamps have proven polarizing in Washington, with proponents saying low-income Americans need this kind of taxpayer-funded assistance, and critics warning that programs foster dependence on government support. Budget experts say that enrollment in the program should start decreasing next year but only very slowly.
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Source: Wall Street Journal