Yesterday, we discussed the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s new rule testing the financial assets of food stamp recipients to determine whether or not they qualify for the benefit.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently traveled to the Keystone State to caution against restricting access to food stamps — officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — on the basis of a person’s financial assets. He contended that implementing the means test would cost money and that it wouldn’t “save the Commonwealth a single dime.”
State officials suggest Secretary Vilsack is way off on the cost of implementation. Moreover, it seems odd to argue there will be no savings at a new conference stuffed full of shrill warnings that too many poor people would lose assistance.
But two of Vilsack’s other arguments really caught my attention. First, he claimed the SNAP program is an “economic extender,” which creates agricultural jobs and positions at grocery stores and convenience marts. Second, he asserted that for each food stamp dollar provided by government an additional $1.80 to $1.90 in economic activity is generated.
In other words, food stamps stimulate the economy. It’s almost as if, even if there were no folks down on their luck, we’d still want to spread around some food stamp money for all the good it does.
Vilsack made absolutely no mention of the economic activity interrupted when government took that same dollar from the person who earned it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.