Should a $2 million lottery winner be heartlessly denied food stamps?
In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jay Ostrich, public affairs director at the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy, tells the story of “Leroy Fick, who won a $2 million lottery jackpot, but still legally collected food stamps.”
That is, until “Michigan enacted a $5,000 asset test” for those applying for food stamps, thereby stopping “exploiters such as Fick from taking advantage of the system.”
Now the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is doing likewise, implementing rules to block food stamps for anyone under 60 with $2,000 or more in assets ($3,250 if over 60 years of age) — excluding one’s home, car, a second car (if valued under $4,650) and retirement savings.
With state and federal welfare spending up 52 percent since 2002, and the friendly state facing a budget crunch, an estimated 2 percent of recipients could be affected to the tune of $50 million in annual savings.
But Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter calls the change “one of the most mean-spirited, asinine proposals to come out of Harrisburg in decades.” It’s “a disgrace,” according to State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia).
The Philadelphia Inquirer editorialized against the asset test on the grounds that it would “punish families for having a few dollars in a bank account.”
Punish? Not getting a handout is hardly punishment. The law just means that those with significant assets have to buy their own groceries.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.