March 31, 2016

Hooray for poor shaming on Fox 'News!' It's so morally satisfying to accuse the poor of being a bunch of freeloaders, especially after people in your own Republican Party have decimated welfare programs, as we knew they would. These savage, greedy monsters assume that people are generally gaming the system, especially 'those people,' more specifically the poverty ridden residents of Mississippi. They want them to either work twenty hours a week or volunteer in sanctioned community service centers or lose their SNAP benefits.

The (newly) reinstated requirements are only for able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who have no young children living with them. If they do not work 80 hours per month, or take part in 80 hours of a qualified job-training or educational program, they can only receive food stamp benefits for three months out of every three years.

Fox and Friends brought on a former TV Judge from Dade County, Judge Alex Ferrer, who reinforces the idea that people need to work because they might be freeloaders, taking the hard-earned money of his friends and family. Newly imposed hardships placed on disproportionately minority, poor and disadvantaged people who rely on food stamps (SNAP) are being enforced this year in 40 states, the most recent being Mississippi. The affected citizens are predominately Black or Hispanic and the state has abysmal statistics on all metrics of decent quality of life.

Judge Alex explains why he likes the idea of forcing people to either work or volunteer twenty hours a week to get their pittance of food rationing. He compared this new SNAP requirement to some of the criminal rehabilitation and restitution punishments he ordered from the bench.

JUDGE ALEX: First of all, there's a lot of people on food stamps, of course, who absolutely need food stamps and they're not gaming the system, but there's also people who are gaming the system. Who feel, "I'd rather just get benefits, you know, and not work." And, I did something very similar when I was a judge in the criminal court. You have the same problem with criminals who, let's say, burglarize your home and steal $5,000. They get caught, and they're ordered to pay the victim back. Well, they don't. And they know they can not be thrown in jail for inability to pay because it's debtors prison.

So since these people need to eat, we should make them do more than they might be able to do, and for good reasons: there's not always a way to fulfill this work/volunteer requirement, and it does NOTHING to encourage job-seeking and more self-sufficiency.

Many in this population, which generally has limited education and skills and limited job prospects, struggle to find employment even in normal economic times. And although the overall unemployment rate is slowly falling, other labor market data indicate that many people who want to work still cannot find jobs, while others who want to work full-time can find only part-time employment. Cutting off food assistance to poor unemployed and underemployed workers doesn’t enable them to find employment or secure more hours of work.

While the sanctimonious group on the couch espouses the benefits of this newly imposed Draconian measure, the statistics tell a completely different reality.

More than 500,000 and as many as 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-49 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children. These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work. The impact will be felt in the 22 states that must or are choosing to reimpose the time limit in 2016.

The loss of this food assistance, which averages approximately $150 to $170 per person per month for this group, will cause serious hardship among many. USDA data show that the individuals likely to be cut off by the three-month limit have average monthly income of approximately 17 percent of the poverty line, and they typically qualify for no other income support.

In case you forget how incredibly awful the House Republicans are, remember Speaker Ryan's latest budget proposal:

which will cut funding steeply — by $125 billion (34 percent) between 2021 and 2025. Cuts of this magnitude would end food assistance for millions of low-income families, cut benefits for millions of households, or some combination of the two.

The folks in the Republican Party and their mouthpiece, Fox 'News,' think this is all fine and dandy. Without this new SNAP policy, these lazy, non-white (sometimes) freeloaders won't be mooching off of them. They think that these 'welfare queens' can make something of themselves, you know, like they have. The cheery blonde on the couch rejoices:

AINSLEY EARHARDT: So no longer can anyone use the excuse, "I can't find a job." Because they can volunteer.

JUDGE ALEX: And we could definitely use the community service.

How nice that these poor Mississippi residents, who are barely surviving, should pick up all the slack left by Republicans who have emptied public coffers and given all the money to their wealthy friends. Let's make them volunteer time that they don't have, to assuage the consciences of these truly abhorrent, allegedly god-fearing, Christian people. We need volunteers since there's no money left to run the government, thanks to REPUBLICANS.

This clarifies the reality, kudos to this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities graphic.

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