The food stamp program was originally intended to support the poorest 2% of Americans. Today around 14% of Americans receive food stamps. The program is one of the government’s fastest growing. Senator Jeff Sessions proposed amendments to the Farm Bill to curb food stamp abuses, but liberals in the Senate defeated his attempt at reform. Below is a letter from Sen. Sessions on the defeat of his proposal.
It is disappointing that the Senate majority rejected modest attempts to reform the single largest growing major expense in the federal budget. Food stamp spending has quadrupled since 2001, and has doubled since 2008. The food stamp budget now makes up 80 percent of the farm bill and will remain at more than double pre-recession levels for the next ten years. It is one of nearly 80 overlapping federal welfare programs providing low-income support, including 17 for nutrition. An individual on food stamps may receive as much as $25,000 in low-income support for their household.
My amendments would have made two modest but critical reforms to the food stamp program: preventing states from waiving eligibility requirements, and eliminating bonus pay provided to states for deliberately swelling the rolls. It is stunning that the Democrat majority—at a time when we are borrowing forty cents of every dollar we spend—would object to providing even this small degree of financial accountability. It is, however, an encouraging sign of progress that this amendment, unlike last year, did receive bipartisan support and a larger vote total.
This is not only a financial issue but a moral issue. One in 7 Americans are on food stamps. Under this bill, no fewer than 1 in 9 Americans will be on food stamps at any point in the next ten years. Left unattended, the safety net can turn into a restraint. Welfare support can, over time, become damaging to both the Treasury and the recipient. Those administering the program seem determined to place the largest number of people possible on welfare support. Is not a better goal to see how many Americans we can help achieve financial independence?—Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)