The Norman Transcript

Editorials

September 22, 2013

GOP’s misguided attack

NORMAN — Unable to push a $20-billion cut in food stamps through the House in June, Republicans are now seeking to cut $40 billion over 10 years by tightening eligibility and cutting off able-bodied adults who don’t find or train for jobs.

Far too many Americans are on food stamps, and parts of the GOP proposal have a patina of reasonableness. But while it may motivate some idle adults to get to work, it would also punish those who simply can’t find jobs at a time when there are three applicants for every opening.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps buy food for those who earn up to 30 percent more than the federal poverty level. The amount is modest — an average of $5.10 per day for a single adult — and it’s reduced as the beneficiary’s income grows.

The program has skyrocketed in cost, however, because so many people are on it: about 47 million. The fastest-growing group may be able-bodied adults without dependents, which increased from 1.7 million in 2007 to 4.5 million in 2011. That happened in part because of the surge in unemployment, particularly among younger adults, and in part because the government waived the requirement that such recipients lose their benefits after three months unless they work at least 20 hours a week or attend a training program.

The House proposal would reinstate that cutoff, on the dubious theory that the availability of a few dollars in food aid per day is enough to persuade people not to work.

Proponents say they’re simply trying to restore the work requirements that were the hallmark of the 1996 welfare reform act, but they’re overlooking two key differences. While the 1996 law sought to help those in poverty overcome the barriers to employment, the House bill would let states cut off food aid without offering recipients opportunities to work, get job training or perform community service. And the welfare reforms were aided by a booming economy. The economy today is sputtering, causing stiff competition.

The real solution to the high demand for food stamps is to get the economy growing faster, not to force more Americans to go hungry.

— Los Angeles Times

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Editorials
  • State is No. 2 in barbecue

    Americans love the marriage of smoke, fire and meat, but geography plays a part in how strong the passion is. Estately Blog has created a map charting which states are home to the most barbecue enthusiasts. Oklahoma comes in at No. 2 in ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Keep guns off campus

    Some Oklahoma lawmakers just won’t let the issue of allowing handguns on campus to go away. A joint legislative study will take a look at campuses around the nation to see if there is a way to accommodate faculty, staff and students who ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Improving children’s lives

    Social service organizations that have long-term debt for their headquarters and operating needs often spend much of their fundraising efforts meeting those obligations....

    July 29, 2014

  • State, local jobmarkets look up

    A tight labor market is often a big problem for economic development professionals. They need to be able to promise companies that there are willing workers in the community’s labor pool....

    July 26, 2014

  • Be careful out in the heat

    This week’s triple-digit temperatures are contributing to heat-related illnesses. The state health department’s Injury Prevention Service reminds Oklahomans of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke....

    July 25, 2014

  • Get smart on crime

    It’s no secret that prison guards have become the frontline mental health case workers in Oklahoma prisons. Accessing mental health services outside of prison is tough but even harder behind the walls....

    July 25, 2014

  • Quite the resilient bunch

    The people of Moore are a resilient bunch. They’ve bounced back from tornadoes before, but the current renaissance may be the quickest yet. FEMA officials said it would take two years to see some sense of normalcy. That’s hardly the case....

    July 24, 2014

  • A fresh start for VA

    All of us have high hopes for the confirmation and success of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald. If confirmed — and most believe he’s a shoe-in — McDonald will take over a paralyzed system of health care that is not ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014