Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) explained on Tuesday that a new policy that could cut off food stamps for thousands of people in his state would be "ennobling" for poor people.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced last month that beginning in 2015, it would no longer request a waiver to the federal work requirement for certain people who use the SNAP program. Up to 65,000 single Hoosiers could lose food stamp benefits unless they are working 20 hours a week or attending job training.
Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Pence argued that 50,000 people had joined the Indiana workforce since 2008 so it was time to return to a "core principle" of welfare reform.
"How do you feel about people who say you are targeting poor people?" Fox News host Brian Kilmeade asked the governor.
"I'm someone that believes there's nothing more ennobling to a person than a job," Pence insisted. "And to make sure that able-bodied adults without dependants at home know that here in the state of Indiana, we want to partner with them in their success."
"You know, it's the old story," he continued. "Give someone a fish, and they'll eat for a day. Teach them to fish, they'll eat for a lifetime. I think this is an idea whose time has come here in the state of Indiana."
Think Progress pointed out last month that there were 2 million people in the Midwest seeking jobs, but only about a million jobs available. And that's not counting the thousands of people who are no longer counted as unemployed because they gave up looking for a job.
Advocates of the poor have argued that the state should solve the problem by creating programs to help jobless people before stripping their food stamp benefits.
"Let's figure out what the goals are for these able-bodied adults without dependents, and then let's build a program that meets those goals," Jessica Fraser of Indiana Institute for Working Families told the Indy Star. "That seems to make a little more sense to me."
A Hunger in America 2014 study released this week found that one out of every six people in Indiana turned to one of 11 food banks run by Feeding Indiana's Hungry.
Executive Director Emily Weikert Bryant told Nuvo that the study showed that more employed people were turning to food banks in recent years.
"What is interesting is that we are seeing that a number of clients are working - and a number of our clients have been working - and I think that's indicative of the economy that we've seen since the data was recorded for the study in 2009," Executive Director Emily Weikert Bryant told Nuvo.