Yesterday a measure that would have saved $20 billion in ten years from the food stamp program failed to pass in the Senate. That wouldn’t have been a drastic cut seeing that the federal government will spend $770 billion on the program in the next decade. Four Republican Senators even joined the Democrats in voting against the plan.
Enter Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, who proposed reforms to limit the worst excesses. One proposal would have established a federal asset test to ensure that food stamps aren’t going to families that may not have an income but have tens of thousands of dollars in savings or may even live in a million-dollar home. Some 39 states have no real asset test for food stamps, which means wealthy families without anyone in the job market are eligible, and 27 have gross-income limits that are above 130% of the federal poverty guidelines.
That amendment lost 56-43, with every Democrat except Missouri’s Claire McCaskill opposing it. New England Republicans Scott Brown, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and Nevada’s Dean Heller joined the antireformers.
Mr. Sessions also tried to end the preposterous federal policy of paying some $500 million in bonuses to states that sign up more people for food stamps. This is the way government becomes a permanent feedback loop promoting even bigger government. That amendment lost 58-41, with every self-described Democratic “deficit hawk” opposed.
Still to come is an amendment on another egregious practice that lets some 15 states automatically enroll families for food stamps if they get federal home-heating subsidies. Some states mail heating subsidy checks of as little as $1 a month so families can qualify for federal food stamp benefits of as much as $130 a month. That amendment too is expected to fail.
How can they even know what food stamp usage will be eight or ten years from now? Good grief.