Food Stamp News: SNAP Cuts Explained & Michigan’s new drug testing policy

SNAP

A few weeks ago, you might have picked up on my annoyance at having to debunk rumors regarding food stamp policy changes and sensationalized articles about food assistance cuts. From now on, I will regularly write here about new policy changes and upcoming cuts that will affect those on assistance. I’ll try to make it as simplified as possible while giving a complete rundown of the correct information.

FIRST… let’s talk about cuts to SNAP but let me start with touching on the passage of The Farm Bill last year.

The SNAP program budget is part of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is typically renewed every five years. In 2014, it took awhile to renew , in part because of disagreement over the SNAP budget. Republicans wanted drastic cuts. In the end, $8.6 billion was cut. Those cuts span the next decade, not all at once. With passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, the SNAP budget is in place until the next time Farm Bill is renewed. This means Congress will not be making MORE cuts to SNAP until that time.

I say all of this because on my own social media, I am constantly seeing people talking about Congress trying to make more cuts to food stamps. The other day,for example, an article from February of 2014 talking about Republicans proposing $39 billion more cuts to SNAP made the rounds. My request to all Liberals who use social media (especially managing Facebook pages) to please,please,please check the dates on articles, as well as fact check the information. You might not understand this but it causes a lot of panic among people who rely on assistance. Don’t make people worry more than they have to. Also don’t use the topic of food insecurity as the only means you have to demonize Republicans. I’m sure there are plenty of other current events that will illustrate this as effectively.

The good news about the major cuts in 2014 is that only 15 states will likely be affected , thanks to the “heat and eat” loophole.

This brings me to current headlines:

♦ One Million Will Lose Food Stamps
In 2016, some states will revert to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that puts limits on how long an unemployed person without dependent children can receive food stamps, usually only three months. Some states already have this policy in place.

The other part of this is that some states that qualified for waivers because unemployment rates were high in some areas without enough jobs to match the employment needs are now seeing an upswing in the economy and will lose those waivers, meaning less people will qualify for enrollment.

Michigan’s New Drug Testing Policy

Even though other states who have tried instating a drug testing policy for all recipients of assistance have proven it to be a giant waste of money and time (as well as unconstitutional), Michigan has launched a pilot program in 3 counties that will test people “under suspicion”. Michigan actually tried this legislation before in 1999 and it was ruled unconstitutional.
I am anti-drug testing all the way around but this legislation has me particularly peeved. Suspicion based? What qualifies someone as being suspect? I can’t help but predict racial stigmas will come into play heavily here.

Right now, this policy is NOT for SNAP recipients as has been widely stated. Only recipients of TANF (cash benefits) in The Family Independence Program will be subjected to testing.

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Mean People Suck: Tom Brower thinks he’s Captain Hammer, Walmart still treats their employees like crap, and other stupid stuff

This week, the Mean People who suck are also providing some comedy. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t help but laugh. It turns out that a lot of the time, mean people are also pretty stupid …or at least do some stupid stuff.

So,there’s  this guy…Tom Brower…he’s a state rep from Hawaii. He’s solving the homelessness problem by bashing shopping carts with a sledgehammer.

Excuse the geek moment here but I immediately thought of  Captain Hammer from Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Tom Brower is more like Captain Pointless,though.  He walks around Honolulu looking for shopping carts that he identifies as one homeless people have been using and smashes the wheels in with a hammer. Then piles them up so the city’s garbage trucks can come pick the up and haul them away to the dump. What a good use of public resources and a friend to the environment.

You have a huge homeless problem in your city and the logical way to deal with it is this instead of advocating for programs that actually help homeless people not be homeless anymore? All righty then. Makes so much sense.
He says he returns carts he can identify to the store they came from but it must be that he can’t read or his store locator app doesn’t work so he can’t figure out where to return all of them to because in this video, the cart he smashes is clearly identifiable.

Whatever. He’s a tool.

And just so I can continue in the vein of Dr Horrible….
These rich people said the homeless have it easy and you shouldn’t give them money because you’re enabling them.

Then there’s this guy.

[link]

It’s cool if you do coke and your paycheck comes from taxpayer money as long as you’re not on welfare.

Now might be a good time to point out that Florida’s drug testing for SNAP recipients was a giant waste of money and pretty much everyone’s time. The state lost  $45,780 and the end result was about 2.5% testing positive, mostly for marijuana.
(and that’s about the same result coming out of every other state trying this out)

And finally this week, shout out to the Walmart in Canton, Ohio for getting in to the holiday spirit by collecting donations for their own poorly paid employees so they can have a nice Thanksgiving Day dinner. Well, for those employees who don’t have to work on Thanksgiving, I guess.

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The further insulting irony here is that a lot of those employees are on SNAP and just had their SNAP allowance reduced this month. Walmart is already one of the biggest beneficiaries of the SNAP program and the most recent SNAP cuts will probably increase that trend.