Governor of Pennsylvania Turns His Back On Food Stamp Recipients
In a stunning turn of events, Republican Governor Tom Corbett has decided to balance the state’s budget on the backs of the state’s poorest citizens.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare has announced that, as of May 1, citizens under the age of 60, with more than $2,000 in savings and/or other assets, will no longer qualify for the state’s food stamp program. Citizens over 60 will have a maximum asset limit of $3,250.
When questioned about the changes, a spokesperson for the DPW claimed that the asset test was designed to prevent “people with resources are not taking advantage of the food-stamp program.”
from the Philadelphia City Paper:
Eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse” is an old and recurrent refrain from those who seek to dismantle the country’s social welfare system. But it’s a cynical ruse: 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.
Conservatives frequently bristle at the idea that poor people might have nice things while receiving public assistance (“they have a television on welfare!”). But Pennsylvania will now create the most bizarre of disincentives: dissuading poor people from saving.
“We all know that families need to save money to get off government assistance and achieve self-sufficiency,” according to a press release from Carey Morgan, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. “So it’s not only inhumane, but counterproductive to force people to drain their savings before they can get any help. Someone with less than $2,000 in the bank would easily be wiped out by one visit to the emergency room.”
The City of Philadelphia has condemned the move, as have local retailers who stand to lose business from food stamp recipients. The food stamp program is a major economic stimulus: every dollar of public funds spent on food stamps grows GDP by $1.73.
For more information, the Philadelphia Inquirer has an in-depth look at the new asset test, including an explanation of the state’s current program, along with comments from various people and organizations that will be impacted by the changes.
As you can imagine, the new plan has not been well-received by the majority of Pennsylvania’s citizens, local/state lawmakers, or watchdog groups both in and out-of-state. Unsurprisingly, a petition is already working its way around the web, asking for the signatures of anyone who’d like to see Corbett resign from office.
(image courtesy of Lehigh Valley Live)
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