Once again, a fight is brewing over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Republican chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Mike Conaway, is planning to push for harsher work requirements, even though many of the people in the program are children, elderly, or have disabilities. Additionally, so-called able-bodied adults without dependents already face work requirements to get food stamps for more than three months. Democrats are pushing back against Conaway’s plan, and Senate Republicans are aware that they’re not going to pass any bill without Democratic support. But for many House Republicans and the lobbyists who push them to be more evil, Conaway’s plan won’t lead to enough hunger, and that’s reason to oppose it.
“I’m concerned the bill might not go in the right direction on work,” said Jason Turner, who leads Secretaries’ Innovation Group, composed of conservative state officials who administer SNAP and favor policies that restrict access to welfare programs.
And by “the right direction on work,” Turner means “kick families with kids off nutrition assistance faster.” That’s a current far-right preoccupation that keeps coming up.
Here’s the reality of SNAP and work, for adults who don’t have disabilities and aren’t senior citizens:
Nearly three-quarters of adults who participate in SNAP in a typical month work either that month or within a year of that month of participation. Over half of individuals who were participating in SNAP in a typical month in mid-2012 were working in that month. Furthermore, 74 percent worked in the year before or after that month (in the 25-month period). Rates were even higher when work among other household members is counted: 81 percent of SNAP households with a non-disabled adult, and 87 percent of households with children and a non-disabled adult, included at least one member who worked in this 25-month period. […]
SNAP participation among non-disabled adults is often short term, but those who receive SNAP for longer periods still work most of the time. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the adults who participated in SNAP at some point over the roughly 3.5-year period that this part of our analysis examined received it for a total of less than two years. Regardless of how long these adults participated in SNAP, however, they worked in the majority of months in which they received SNAP assistance. Over one-third of non-disabled adults worked in every month they participated in SNAP.
These people who work may have unstable job situations and rely on SNAP when they’re temporarily unemployed. But that definitely doesn’t mean that people are turning to SNAP to avoid working at all—the favorite Republican lie.
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