Our View: Those who can work will have to… and should

Here’s some good news for all you working stiffs out there who have become sick and tired of seeing the growing problem of food stamp abuse. New requirements on those seeking help from the so-called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — better known as food stamps — will now have to meet work or job training requirements. The changes in the state’s relative unemployment rate means that the state is no longer exempt from federal work requirements for about 25,000 Arkansans who will not be told they have to find a job or enroll in job training, education or volunteer programs to get free, government subsidized food stamps for more than three months. Now, all of a sudden, the bureaucrats are saying they want able-bodied adults to finally get a job and are admitting that this new process is good for the individual, better for the state and certainly helpful for the state’s economy. Tired of seeing the abusers drive up to the grocery store in a fancy new or late model vehicle, filling their grocery carts with name brand goods and USDA “Choice” meats and then swipe that carefully disguised government issued debit card? Well, folks, it now appears the familiar saying, “Will work for food” will really mean something when it comes to those individuals fully capable of getting a job and getting off this government subsidy program. While there are many counties that could get waivers from work requirements, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is saying he will not seek them. Hutchinson has made it clear that able-bodied, childless adults be required to actively seek employment, which is a requirement that should have been in place from the very beginning. We have advocated that SNAP or food stamps should be temporary assistance and the goal should have been all along to move the beneficiaries away from government dependence. You know the real shocker to all this is learning that in 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, a measured aimed at tightening welfare. Then President Bill Clinton, yes our liberal Democrat from right here in Arkansas, signed the act, which required able-bodied food stamp recipients to work an average of at least 20 hours a week or demonstrate an effort toward full-time employment through job training or a workforce program. At that time, able-bodied citizens were defined as those between 18 and 50 years old who have no dependents and are physically and mentally fit for employment. While Clinton supported measures tightening up food stamp abusers it appears his home state bureaucrats seemed to have snubbed the idea, probably at the directive of their boss politicians. Things have obviously changed in that Arkansas is now among 23 other states that will for the first time impose work-related requirements for benefits. Let us be clear, there are certainly a majority of “poor” Arkansans deserving of a helping hand and who don’t abuse they generosity of those taxpayers capable of helping. To be more specific, about 500,000 Arkansans are receiving food stamp benefits, according to the state officials. But, for those who do abuse the system, and as pointed out there are about 25,000 or possibly more, there needs to be accountability and responsibility requirements in place.


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