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U.S. Spent Record $80.4 Billion on Food Stamps in 2012

Earlier this week, the Judicial Watch’s blog, Corruption Chronicles, reported that news, writing:

“The program has exploded with a record number of people—46 million and growing—getting free groceries from Uncle Sam. Adding insult to injury, a federal audit revealed last year that many who don’t qualify for food stamps receive them under a special “broad-based” eligibility program that disregards income and asset requirements. This is sticking American taxpayers with a multi-million-dollar tab to feed hundreds of thousands of people who can well afford to feed themselves.

“As 2013 gets rolling, the government reveals this month that in fiscal year 2012 it spent a record $80.4 billion on food stamps. That’s a whopping $2.7 billion increase from the previous fiscal year! This doesn’t even include other taxpayer-funded food programs for low-income populations like “Child Nutrition Programs” that received an additional $18.3 billion last year.”

On October 11, 2012, Corruption Chronicles, also reported that: “The government’s food stamp program has gotten so out of control under President Obama that a United States senator is demanding an end to the madness, especially the administration’s aggressive promotion campaigns to recruit even more recipients.”

Finally, the General Accountability Office (GAO) reported on July 26, 2012 that “improved oversight of state eligibility expansions (are) needed.” In their highlights, GAO wrote:

“In fiscal year 2010, GAO estimates that 2.6 percent (473,000) of households that received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would not have been eligible for the program without broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) because their incomes were over the federal SNAP eligibility limits. The characteristics of these households were generally similar to other SNAP households, although they were more likely to work or receive unemployment benefits. BBCE removes asset limits in most states, and while reliable data on participants’ assets are not available, other data suggest few likely had assets over these limits. Although BBCE contributed to recent increases in SNAP participation, other factors, notably the recent recession, had a greater effect.

“GAO estimates that BBCE increased SNAP benefit costs, which are borne by the federal government, by less than 1 percent in fiscal year 2010. In that year, total SNAP benefits provided to households that, without BBCE, would not have been eligible for the program because their incomes were over the federal SNAP eligibility limits were an estimated $38 million monthly or about $460 million for the year. These households received an estimated average monthly SNAP benefit of $81 compared to $293 for other households. BBCE’s effect on SNAP administrative costs, which are shared by the federal and state governments, is unclear, in part because of other recent changes that affect this spending, such as state budget and staffing reductions in the recent recession.

“BBCE has potentially had a negative effect on SNAP program integrity. In recent years, the SNAP payment error rate declined to an historic low, but evidence suggests the decline is primarily due to changes other than BBCE. While BBCE may improve administrative efficiency, both national data and discussions with local staff suggest BBCE may also be associated with more errors. In addition, BBCE has led to unintended consequences for SNAP and related programs . . . .”

We growled on December 16, 2012 about the skyrocketing use of food stamps in Northern Virginia. Consequently, it’s not surprising that food stamp use is likewise setting new records nationally.

Incidentally, if you're wondering just how much $80.4 billion is, let's do a little division. With something like 77 million families in America, it means spending about $1,040 for each and every family.

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