published Sunday, October 30th, 2011

High food stamp use in Tennessee an alarming sign

It was jarring to read recently that about 2.5 percent of state government workers in Tennessee are receiving food stamps. That comes to about 970 of Tennessee's roughly 39,000 employees.

The numbers are troubling, though the Times Free Press reported that it was unclear how many of the state workers who are on food stamps are employed full time versus part time.

At any rate, we obviously wish there were enough good-paying jobs in Tennessee, and everywhere else in our country, so no one would need food stamps -- or government housing and so forth.

But while we are alarmed about the 2.5 percent of state workers in Tennessee who rely on food stamps, it would be wrong to ignore the far vaster use of food stamps across the United States as a whole.

Back in mid-2007 -- only four years ago -- approximately 27 million Americans used food stamps. Now, that was undoubtedly a substantial number of people in need of food assistance.

But did you realize that today, the number of Americans on food stamps has risen to a mind-boggling 46 million? That is an incredible -- and disturbing -- 70 percent increase in food stamp use over just the past four years!

Those 46 million Americans on food stamps come to roughly 15 percent of our nation's entire population.

Perhaps most troubling of all, though, there is little prospect that current federal government policies are going to do much of anything to reduce the need that so many Americans now have for food stamps.

The 2009 so-called "stimulus," which cost $862 billion in taxes and borrowed money, was projected by the Obama administration to keep unemployment below 8 percent. But for almost the whole time that President Barack Obama has been in office, unemployment has been above 9 percent. It's currently 9.1 percent.

The stimulus hasn't held down joblessness as it was supposed to do. So what is Plan B?

The president says America needs a second stimulus, though he shrewdly labels it a "jobs plan" rather than a "stimulus" this time around. This $447 billion plan has already suffered one legislative defeat, but the president insists Congress should pass it nevertheless -- in one form or another. And he says the American people are firmly behind his plan -- though a mid-October CNN poll found that a record-high 59 percent of voters surveyed said his policies will fail, compared with only 36 percent who think they will succeed.

President Obama's prescription for the economy isn't working. His push for higher taxes and more spending isn't "stimulating" the economy. It is miring it in fear and uncertainty, and stifling investment and job creation.

Tennesseans and everyone else across our nation should realize that doubling down on such policies is no solution.

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EaTn said...

Only when state employees start receiving food assistance does the need begin getting attention. These folks have a job. Imagine what it's like for those without jobs trying to make ends meet. Our state politicians have been apathetic as is reflected in their agendas.

October 30, 2011 at 6:27 a.m.
conservative said...

Hmm, if government offers free food will there be takers? If government offers free money will there be takers? If government offers free health care will there be takers? If government offers free housing will there be takers? Takers have an insatiable appetite for more. The makers need to wake up and say "no more".

October 30, 2011 at 9:22 a.m.
acerigger said...

Reviewing CBO data, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, U.S. GDP could have been up to 2.5 percent lower. By the third quarter of 2011, CBO estimated that ARRA saved up to 2.5 million jobs and reduced the unemployment rate by 1.3 percent. As former McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi put it last year, federal intervention prevented "Depression 2.0."

Yet,Republicans never tire of pushing the mis-leading meme that "the stimulus failed"!

October 30, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.
joe said...

As many progressives noted at the time of the passing of the original stimulus plan, the heavy reliance of tax breaks was an inefficient way for the stimulus money to have the most impact. However, it still managed to help many states to keep their employees on the payroll. When that money ran out, so did most of those folks jobs. The reason it can be argued that the plan 'failed' was because it was all Obama could get through Congress. If it had gone through as originally envisioned, the impact would have been greater and more long lasting. The fact that state employees are utilizing foods stamps is the best argument I have ever heard of for a 'living wage.'

October 30, 2011 at 11:37 a.m.
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