Paul Krugman: SNAP Notes:
I wanted to tie together two of this week’s stories: the new Census numbers on income and poverty, and the GOP vote to throw several million people off food stamps. It has now become dogma on the right that the expansion of the SNAP program represents some kind of explosion of moocherism…. This despite clear evidence (pdf) that the recent rise in SNAP participation is overwhelmingly a response to the economy. To the extent that there’s any rational argument here at all, I think, it rests on the observation that while SNAP enrollment did fall during the boom of the 1990s, it was flat or rising during the expansion of the middle Bush years. This supposedly shows that the program’s use was being driven by things other than economic factors. But there’s a crucial point such analyses miss: the “Bush boom,” such as it was, never did trickle down to lower-income Americans--the kind of people who might use food stamps…. The Clinton expansion led to a substantial rise in incomes near in the lower part of the distribution, and was accompanied by a sharp fall in SNAP usage. The Bush expansion never did… so it’s no surprise that SNAP use didn’t fall…. Oh, and SNAP use hasn’t come down yet in the recovery because for lower-income Americans, there hasn’t been a recovery…. The story of the past decade is overwhelmingly about a program doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, aiding people facing real hardship.