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Letter


NTU supports the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) components of the "Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act."

February 12, 2014

The Honorable Mike Lee
United States Senate
316 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Lee: 

On behalf of the 362,000 members of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) components of the “Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act.” Your legislation will expand on the successful welfare reforms of 1996 by placing SNAP beneficiaries on a path toward independence from government aid, all while saving taxpayers money.

In the mid-1990s Congressional Republicans and President Clinton united to begin the process of reforming welfare, by requiring beneficiaries of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to work or train for employment. The reforms succeeded in moving more than 8 million individuals off the welfare rolls and into jobs. Today, of the roughly 80 federal means-tested welfare programs, SNAP is one of the largest and fastest-growing, with costs doubling in inflation-adjusted terms since 2008 and more than 47.4 million Americans receiving food stamps each month.

In response, this legislation strengthens SNAP work requirements. Setting such common-sense work prerequisites for able-bodied adults ensures that families and individuals develop the skills necessary to break the self-defeating cycle of government dependence. States that do not comply with the reinstated stipulations will receive commensurate reductions in federal SNAP funds. At the same time, those states that do comply are incentivized to reduce welfare rolls with grants equal to one-quarter of the money saved by the federal government, under the condition that the money is spent to benefit the poor and used to encourage self-sufficiency.

Most importantly, your legislation takes steps to increase accountability in our government while curbing out-of-control costs. Taxpayers, many of whom are facing their own financial struggles, deserve a clear picture of how their money is being spent on welfare programs. By demanding a full accounting and disclosure of welfare spending we can begin to shed light on why so many tax dollars have produced so few results. Furthermore, by capping expenditures in this area at 2007 levels once unemployment falls below 6 percent, the bill would protect taxpayers from politically opportunistic attempts to unnecessarily ramp up program spending.

Given our soaring national debt, persistently high unemployment, and ongoing economic challenges, sticking with the status quo is an unsustainable response to a growing problem. Instead, legislators should build on past, proven successes that focus on promoting self-reliance, rather than government dependence. Once again NTU is pleased to endorse the SNAP reforms in the “Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act” and urges all Senators to work toward their enactment.

Sincerely,

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Nan Swift
Federal Affairs Manager