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Need Food Stamps? What’s Your Collateral?

Need Food Stamps? What’s Your Collateral?

The war against the poor rages on as Pennsylvania announced plans to make the amount of food stamps people receive contingent on the assets they possess.

As of May 1, 2012, people under 60 with more than $2000 in savings or other assets would no longer be eligible for food stamps. For those over 60 the limit is a slightly less-draconian $3250. Houses and retirement benefits are exempt from counting as an asset, as is one car. But any additional vehicle worth more than $4650 would be considered a countable asset.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Welfare said the move was designed to combat welfare fraud, though advocates for the poor note that Pennsylvania has one of the lowest food stamp fraud rates in the nation: one-tenth of 1 percent. Furthermore, at least 30 percent of the people who are eligible for food stamps in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation don’t access them, making the benefit program under-subscribed.

The move is really nothing short of punitive and counter-productive to conservatives’ stated goal of making people less dependent on government. The plan punishes elderly people who are trying to save for their burials, poor people desperately trying to save enough money to move to a better location, and working-and middle-class people who have lost their jobs during the recession and are now forced to liquidate assets to feed their families.

Then again, we all know that for most conservatives in office it not really about  making people less dependent on government as it is punishing the poor and casting a moral judgment because they exist in poverty.

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Photo from Borya via flickr.

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106 comments

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10:44AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

In other words reward the profligate and punish the prudent who try to provide themselves with a small safety net. When they have been forced to spend their savings where are they supposed to turn if their boiler/heating breaks down or the roof needs mending?

5:49AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

I agree there should be conditions. Maybe a 60 day window before the means test to cover those who have an employment issue. I also think people should sell their assets to cover expenses. I've had to sell most everything twice in my life, you survive. People who have drug, weight, addiction problems must be in a program to change their lives or they are out.

I got a year long therapy at the VA and they warned me up front that if I tested positive for any illegal substances or nicotine I was out. Now how is it a military veteran has to follow strict guidelines to get their benefits but a civilian (perhaps also a vet) expects to not.

We have a system which helps those who need it. Unfortunately we have many people who work that system to the expense of others. Dignity can be preserved while monitoring the system.

3:39AM PST on Feb 8, 2012

another step towards killing off the poor....... who's next?

3:15AM PST on Jan 28, 2012

It is so sad that the ones who commit fraud or take advantage of things like food stamps, make it so hard on the ones who need it the most.

6:13PM PST on Jan 21, 2012

This could set a dangerous precedent for States like Maine and Indiana to follow. This should be nipped in the bud quickly!

11:55AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

@ Portland N

Ronald Reagan told a similar story - his welfare queens. This was proved to be his imagination. Any reason I should assign more credibility to you than I did to President Reagan?

It is a strain to believe "Many Cadillacs and expensive cars" at a welfare mission- unless of course they belonged to drug dealers.. Take a few pics and send them to a newspaper and you'd have quite a story.

10:19AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

Well, the Veterans’ Administration does an annual Means Test on all its veteran patients. I have been filling them out for eighteen years during my good economic years and during these recent years when I have been economically struggling. So, I am very familiar with Means Testing.

While I was volunteering at a rescue mission for the indigent and for people with addictions, I saw many new Cadillac’s and expensive cars in the monthly commodity line. I hate to be honest, but there are a lot of greedy, selfish people who take more than they really need. They know that they qualify, because the system is somewhat lenient at present. They also feel they earned or deserve their rights to commodities, and they will not go without them even if they can do without them. I was poorer than the people driving through the commodity line, but I did not even apply, because I knew there were people worse off who really needed the monthly supplies. I also feared that some day in the near future—with the way things are going economically in this nation—that maybe the commodity system, as well as the EBT system, might suffer cut backs or even be discontinued during future budget cuts!!!

10:36AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

Thanks for posting.

12:01AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

David C, Patrick F and Vivianne M - excellent comments that I totally agree with.

It is always the rich and thick Right that want to assume that those down on their luck are thieves and scroungers - very few are. $2,000 in savings will go nowhere if a house leaks or there is a problem somewhere - I know! It is all a smokescreen to disguise what they are doing - taking food from those that need it - and also, like a magician, using sleight of hand to conceal other nastiness they are up to.

11:50PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Horrible for those that need this help, thank you.

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