It has come to my attention that the failed Vice Presidential candidate is back out among media celebrities armed with some new deceptive slogans:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Monday that he’s focused primarily on addressing poverty, a week after he complained that the farm bill did not include enough cuts to the food stamp program.
In a floor statement, Ryan lamented that the farm bill proposed only “modest changes” to the food stamp program, which he said had grown at an alarming rate. Ryan did, however, vote for an amendment to the farm bill authored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) that would have applied federal work requirements to the food stamp program, a measure that cost the legislation Democratic votes.
As I explained yesterday, the farm bill that the House wisely rejected yesterday included an unprecedented provision to reward governors with large sums of unrestricted cash if they cut families off the SNAP (food stamp) program because the parents, through no fault of their own, cannot find jobs.
Some news reports have incorrectly described the provision, which came in an amendment from Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), as giving states the option to impose work requirements on SNAP recipients, as though there are no work requirements now. That’s simply not correct. The program has had work requirements for years. The Southerland amendment is very different from a normal “work requirement.”
Work requirements in low-income programs require unemployed people to look for jobs, to accept any job offer, to participate in workforce or training programs if there is a slot available in a program, and the like.
This is not what the Southerland amendment would do. It would allow states to end benefits for most adults who receive or apply for SNAP — including parents with young children and many people with disabilities — if they are not working or participating in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week. The amendment provides no jobs and no funds for work or training programs, and it does not require states to make any work opportunities available. People who want to work and are looking for a job but haven’t found one could be cut off.
That’s what makes this fundamentally different from a normal work requirement.
To add insult to injury, the amendment gives states a powerful financial incentive to cut people and their children off simply because they can’t find work in a weak economy. It allows states to keep half of the savings from cutting these people off and to use the money for whatever they want — tax cuts, special-interest subsidies, or anything else. Governors could help solve their budget problems by dropping unemployed people from SNAP.
Policymakers and the media should recognize the Southerland amendment for what it is: an unprecedented and draconian benefit cut-off. That’s why the measure aroused such passionate opposition.
So, to recap, this what the “work requirement” Paul Ryan is dishonestly selling is designed to do:
reward governors with large sums of unrestricted cash if they cut families off SNAP
It allows states to keep half of the savings from cutting these people off and to use the money for whatever they want — tax cuts, special-interest subsidies, or anything else
Florida Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, is in damage control mode after being blamed, in part, for the collapse of the farm bill. Southerland offered up an amendment, endorsed by Gov. Rick Scott, that would force food stamp recipients to adhere to federal work requirements. Democrats cited it as a reason why they backed away from a deal, which killed the bill.