Oh, SNAP: What we forget about food stamp cuts

Hughey Newsome Advisory Council, Project 21
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At the end of October, supplemental aid to the federal food stamp program — officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — ran out.

USA Today reported “[v]ulnerable populations will be hardest hit.” CNN posted a column by Feeding America’s Bob Aiken that warned of the new “strain on millions of families struggling with food insecurity.” Currently, there are 47 million Americans receiving SNAP entitlements. There were just over 28 million enrolled in 2008.

What’s largely missing from the coverage is why cuts happened in the first place.

Heartless conservative politicians are not responsible for sending kids to bed hungry. The expiration of this expanded spending was embedded in the infamous stimulus bill that was rammed through Congress by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in 2009 at the behest of President Obama. Stimulus spending provided for only a temporary increase. After all, people were only supposed to need more SNAP money until the economy recovered. Surely, they figured, the economy would rebound in four-and-a-half years.

But that was before things like Obamacare and the administration’s war on fossil fuels.

Back in 2009, out of the $847 billion stimulus bill, only $45 billion went to feed hungry children. The rest went, supposedly, to stimulate economic growth.

Therein lies the problem.

It is difficult to make the claim that stimulus spending actually worked as intended — creating jobs and growing the economy — while also lamenting that people who should now be self-sufficient still need to be fed through government entitlements. At some point, it can’t be denied the original program failed. Obama himself joked back in 2011 that “Shovel-ready was not as, uh … shovel-ready as we expected.”

The problem is that the stimulus, increased regulations, and now Obamacare are dragging down the economy. Instead of creating jobs, the policies of the Obama administration are making people increasingly reliant on entitlements such as SNAP.

Rather than admitting defeat, liberals’ next step is to push for more regulation and more spending to subsidize and prop up their failures without ever having a conversation about why the original grand ideas did not work. All the while, more people are signing up for entitlements — straining the government’s safety net more and more.

Predictably, those who criticize conservatives as heartless for not supporting Obama’s parade of jobs proposals following the ARRA do not have the wherewithal to admit the stimulus actually failed. Then again, they are the same who say the rich aren’t taxed enough and seem to believe there is an infinite amount of money among the rich and the business community to solve society’s problems.

This is a problem because, no matter how much is taken from the rich or the boss, the resources of middle-class and lower-class households — who manage a finite set of resources — and businesses whose managers are judged on the ability meet customer expectations while keeping costs low — are also affected.

Neither businesses nor families have infinite resources. They are accountable for managing their finite resources properly. Meanwhile, they now must present a growing share of those resources to a government that assumes there are no limits.

That’s unfortunately how there can be so little discussion of how nearly a trillion dollars in stimulus spending missed the mark so badly. That is how people assume government can replace families as a social institution. That is how programs that discourage self-accountability and promote government dependency continue unabated.

Of course, conservatives already know that just taking money from the rich (and future generations in the form of America’s $17 trillion debt) and redistributing it as politicians see fit is not a cure-all.

The unfortunate thing is that too many people who must deal with the challenges of finite resources in their daily lives support politicians lacking the ability to do so.