March 31, 2017
One lawmaker is citing a godly reference to justify changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Tex.) recently quoted the New Testament to question the strength of current work requirements.
The verse in question applies specifically to people who can work or otherwise contribute to society but choose not to, said theologians from several denominations who spoke to The Post. There is a perception, among some voters and lawmakers, that many adult SNAP recipients are exactly this sort of “freeloader.”
This population represents only a small minority of SNAP users. According to the Department of Agriculture, nearly two-thirds of SNAP recipients are children, seniors and people with disabilities. Of the remaining third, the vast majority are employed. According to the USDA, only 14 percent of all SNAP participants work less than 30 hours per week.
Contrary to popular opinion, both liberal and conservative economists agree that there is no “welfare cliff” with SNAP. Because benefits decrease incrementally with increased income, the program does not disincentivize employment.
But the 6 million or so who are not employed receive a great deal of attention. This is a diverse population, experts say, who face a variety of barriers to employment, as well as an array of state and federal work requirements.