Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?

Posted by Charles II on January 10, 2012

Via Atrios, the latest atrocity from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett:

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has announced a major assault on the food stamp program that feeds 1.8 million Pennsylvanians, including 439,245 in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare announced that on May 1, people under 60 with more than $2,000 in savings or other assets will be barred from receiving food stamps. People over 60 would have a $3,250 cap.

…30 percent of those eligible for food stamps in Pennsylvania don’t receive them. According to federal data, the Inquirer notes, Pennsylvania has a fraud rate of just one-tenth of 1 percent.

…Pennsylvania will now create the most bizarre of disincentives: dissuading poor people from saving.


[Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman Anne] Bale said DPW estimated that 2 percent of the 1.8 million Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps would be affected by the asset test.

Food-stamp caseworkers must be trained to ascertain proof of assets from food-stamp recipients, and computers will have to be reprogrammed, said Jean Daniel, a USDA spokeswoman. That can be quite costly, she and others said.

In Pennsylvania, people can access SNAP if they make 160 percent of the federal poverty level or less. For a family of four, the poverty level is $22,350.

Individual states administer SNAP [Food Stamp] programs and are permitted to apply asset tests as long as the minimum amount of assets is set no lower than $2,000.

So, to summarize: (according to the Corbett Administration), only 2% of recipients will be affected. To prevent 36,000 people from getting ca. $125-$150 in monthly food assistance, we must install an audit system to surveil 1.8 million people. This will cost more money than it will “save” (“save” being a euphemism for shifting costs onto churches, families, and the community or just outright starving people). Meanwhile almost a million Pennsylvanians who qualify for food stamps are suffering rather than put up with the indignity we impose on people for being poor. Even most of the savings to the state are illusory, because of the federal component to SNAP.

I try not to overuse the “Republicans as cancer” label, keeping in mind that they are people, even if badly deluded people. But what does one say about something like this? It is behavior so lacking in basic sense and compassion that it is very difficult to see any humanity in it. .

2 Responses to “Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?”

  1. Susanna K. said

    “But what does one say about something like this?” I say, please, nobody tell the legislators in my state (SC) about this, or they will try it here, too. They are all in favor of adding red tape and growing the state bureaucracy if it hurts the poor.

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