Nearly 35,000 in Alabama Lose Food Stamps


When the recession was in full swing, the federal government offered a waiver to many states that allowed more Americans to obtain food stamp benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That waiver eliminated the requirement that food stamp recipients find employment within three months. But with the recession several years in the rearview mirror, those waivers are being eliminated in those states where unemployment has dropped below 10%. In places like Alabama, the impact to total enrollment has been significant.

When January 1st came around, some 49,000 Alabama residents were enrolled in the SNAP program. Five months later, the state’s Department of Human Resources reports that only 15,375 Alabamians remain on food stamps. With the state’s work requirement waiver having been eliminated for all but 13 Alabama counties, the state expects to save more than $6 million in taxpayer money.

A great Republican once said, “No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.”

That wasn’t Ronald Reagan; it was Abraham Lincoln. And though liberals claim to cherish Lincoln based on his singular legacy on slavery, they tend to ignore his conservative approach to things like welfare. Perhaps because welfare – like so many other things – has been turned into a political weapon by Democrats. We’ve come a long way since even President Bill Clinton, who acknowledged that we could not have a strong America if millions were mooching off the system. Try finding a Democrat who would seriously run on such a idea today.

That’s not to say everything is hunky-dory. There is cause for examination. In Maine, the conservative governor went to great lengths to make sure truly needy residents would not fall through the cracks. By allowing food stamp recipients to volunteer for a certain amount of hours each month in lieu of working, the state avoided penalizing those people who earnestly tried to get a job without success. Alabama and other states should consider adding such a safety net.

That said, SNAP is not the only avenue through which Alabama residents can find assistance. There are plenty of private charitable organizations that exist only to help the needy, and there are other government – state and federal – programs to which many can turn. Furthermore, research has consistently shown that by attaching work requirements to federal aid, we reduce the taxpayer burden and make significant gains in overall employment. Some people, sad to say, simply will not look for a job until they have no other option.

As long as dependence is encouraged, the economy can never truly recover.

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