This week, U.S. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced “a final rule to move more able-bodied recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) towards self-sufficiency and into employment” which, he insisted “restores the system to what Congress intended: assistance through difficult times, not a way of life” and two congressmen representing North Florida clashed on its merits.
While Democrats on Capitol Hill are ripping the new policies, insisting hundreds of thousands of Americans could be taken off SNAP, Purdue insisted it will save billions of taxpayer dollars and encourage more Americans to enter the workforce.
“Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch. Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” said Perdue. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work. This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”
“With a booming economy that has more jobs than workers to fill them and the lowest unemployment rate in more than 50 years, now is the time for every work-capable American to find employment. In fact, the latest U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) figures show the unemployment rate is 3.6 percent and there are 7.0 million job openings. The longer an individual is out of the workforce, the harder it is to re-enter. Now is the time for these individuals to enter, reenter, and remain in the workforce,” the Agriculture Department insisted.
“To put things in perspective, in 2000, the unemployment rate was 4 percent and the number of Americans receiving SNAP benefits was just over 17 million. In 2019, during the longest economic expansion in history, the unemployment rate is 3.6 percent and yet the number of Americans receiving SNAP is over 36 million.”
The department insisted its final rule “promotes work for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents and does not apply to children and their parents, those over 50 years old including the elderly, those with a disability, or pregnant women.”
Perdue has an ally on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee in U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.
“SNAP is an effective program that offers a hand up, not a handout, for individuals and families that find themselves in tough circumstances. Often, SNAP recipients are unable to work or are primary caregivers. For those individuals who can work, this program is intended to bridge the gap as they actively look to rejoin the workforce and contribute to our economy. I applaud the administration and Secretary Perdue’s efforts to help people transition from poverty to prosperity,” Yoho said on Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., also sits on the Agriculture Committee and insisted the new rule could throw 700,000 Americans off SNAP benefits.
“We must remember that our care and attention should remain with the people in our communities struggling with food insecurity. Many SNAP recipients are either attempting to find work or face hardships that prevent them from doing so,” Lawson insisted on social media before throwing his support to “HandsOffSNAP” efforts.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.