Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
Glitches in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system caused major problems for recipients of food stamps over the weekend in 17 states. The problems began on Saturday when Xerox, the company responsible for running the system, experienced “technical difficulties” during a “routine test” of its backup systems. In some cases, EBT beneficiaries were unable to use their cards. In others, the spending limit on the cards was removed, allowing EBT users to purchase as much as they wanted.
As typical with any big breaking news story, the internet was flooded with comments and conversation about the matter, and much of the storm was filled with anger at people who receive any kind of government assistance in getting food at all. It seems that the Reagan era myth of the “welfare queen” still lives and breathes along with many other myths about food stamps in America. Sadly, it seems many folks get their information about poverty from John Galt’s ghost. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the top myths about food stamps in America:
1) No one receiving food stamps has a job. The myth that all food stamp recipients are unemployed, lazy and/or don’t want to work is probably the most pervasive of all myths. As of 2010 however, 41% of Americans on food stamps lived in households with earnings. According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, thanks to high unemployment rates and the recession, having a job hasn’t been enough to keep families out of poverty. Thanks to major corporations like Walmart (America’s largest private sector employer) keeping wages and hours down for employees, many are forced to turn to food stamps to provide for their families.
2) Federal spending on food stamps is out of control, and recipients get a “free ride” off the money from taxpayers. Funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in FY2012 was nearly $80 billion. While that’s a huge chunk of change, it’s still small potatoes compared to the full federal budget, which crested $3 trillion. The part of the pie cut out for SNAP spending comes under “safety net programs,” which amounts to $412 billion, or 12 percent of the federal budget. Food stamp spending makes up about 1/5th of that 12 percent, with programs like refundable portions of the earned income tax credit, child care assistance, low income housing assistance and more. Meanwhile, the bulk of the budget still goes to the Defense Department, Social Security and Medicaid. Additionally, major corporations continue to go unnoticed as some of the biggest federal welfare recipients. The federal Joint Committee on Taxation estimates corporations could receive some $154 billion in special tax breaks in 2013, nearly twice what the government spends on food for its most vulnerable citizens.
Read the full post at Diatribe Media.