For the first time the majority of Americans receiving Food Stamps are the working poor, having overtaken children and the elderly. According to the AP news agency one in seven Americans are now covered by the Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), and among that figure the fastest growing number were young, college-educated Americans.
Despite the reality of the plight of the working poor in the United States the Republican Party has voted to slash funding for SNAP by billions of dollars, while at the same time voting to give millions of dollars in farm subsidies to some of the wealthiest agricultural land-owners in the country (some of them serving in Congress).
These savage cuts to welfare have often been justified by claims that the welfare recipients are fraudulent and frivolous. However study after study has found that this is not the case. The Republican governor of Maine funded a study into welfare fraud in his state; it found that fraud and spending on commodities like cigarettes and alcohol amounted for less than 1% of all welfare spending.
The state of Georgia will soon debate a bill to force welfare recipients to pass drug tests. This is despite the fact that a similar bill passed in Florida caught out very few people, cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and was ruled unconstitutional three weeks ago. An almost identical bill in Utah also caught a grand total of 12 people.
This study from the AP is yet another example of how the economic recovery is, in a large part of itself, bypassing not just the poorest Americans, but an increasingly large number of Americans who would ordinarily be considered Middle-Class.
One recent study estimated that a staggering 95% of the post-2008 economic gains have gone to the top 1% of earners in the United States. President Obama will address income inequality in his State of the Union address tonight.
Aides close to the Oval Office have said that the president will pledge to use his executive powers to bypass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives if they show a lack of willingness to take action to address the alarming rise in both income inequality and the number of working Americans relying on welfare.
h/t: Houston Chronicle