When a pundit or politician makes an erroneous statement, I wait to see if anyone corrects the error. Sometimes you have to wait a long time (often forever) for a correction. That is why I waited a month to respond to some of the news reports and Twitter posts about the food stamp program.
Mainstream media dutifully reported that the Trump administration formalized work requirements for food stamps. So far so good. But then many concluded that 700,000 people would lose benefits. This led Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tweet that her family relied on food stamps, and they would have starved under the Trump administration.
Fortunately, some are willing to critique this hyperbole. Robert Rector is the Heritage Foundation’s expert on poverty legislation. He took the time to clearly explain what the food stamp reform would do and not do.
First, the reform would not affect parents with a minor child, the elderly or disabled. Contrary to what AOC said, it would have had no impact at all on her family when they were relying on food stamps.
Second, the reform is limited to able-bodied adults without dependents. Under the rule they would be affected only after receiving aid for more than three months. Then they would be required to take a job. If they did not do that, then at the least, they should undertake job training, perform community service work, or at least look for a job.
What about the headlines that 700,000 recipients would “lose benefits” under the reform? Robert Rector explains that “not a single individual will lose benefits if they perform the pro-work activities required by the program.”
When properly understood, most Americans would probably agree with the reform. They are always willing to provide a “hand-up,” but aren’t as interested in giving a “hand-out” and maintaining people in poverty and dependency.