The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) serves an important role in the safety net by providing food aid to
low-income Americans. But this program cannot continue to grow at its current
rates. The cost has exploded in the last decade, from less than $18 billion in 2001 to over $80 billion today. As recently as 2007, SNAP was projected to cost slightly less than $400 billion over ten years. Currently, the ten-year projection has risen to almost $772 billion.
Like Medicaid, the states administer the SNAP program, but unlike Medicaid, the entire cost of benefits under the SNAP program is born by the federal taxpayer. And this administration has managed to make a bad incentive structure worse. The 2009 stimulus bill included additional funding to states if they achieved higher enrollment levels. Unsurprisingly, food-stamp use is up by 46 percent since January 2009. Total spending has more than doubled in four years.
The Solution: Repairing the Social Safety Net - Protecting Assistance for Those in Need
Convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a block grant tailored for each state’s low-income population, indexed for inflation and eligibility beginning in 2016 – after employment has recovered. Make aid contingent on work or job training.
devolving other low-income assistance programs to the states.
State governments can better tailor assistance programs to their specific
populations, providing a more robust safety net and reducing waste in these