How to Reform Food Stamps

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In Heritage Work

The SNAP logoOver the summer, lawmakers successfully decoupled food stamps—officially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—from farm subsidies. They now have an opportunity to reform the broken food stamps program, which has lax eligibility standards and no work requirements.

Heritage Foundation expert Rachel Sheffield describes what reform would look like:

The key element of food stamp reform is to establish a strong work requirement, similar to the one put into place in the 1996 welfare reform. Able-bodied adult recipients of aid funded by the taxpayers should be required to work, prepare for work, or look for work in exchange for receiving assistance.

Any reform should also ensure lawmakers aren’t again tempted to link food stamps and agriculture policies.

Do you think food stamps need reform?

Why the Farm Bill Is a ‘Tangle of Subsidies, Welfare Payments and Environmental Patronage’

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In Heritage Work

The 'farm bill' is 80% food stamps

Congress is currently debating the so-called “farm bill,” which Heritage Foundation experts Daren Bakst and Diane Katz call “a multi-billion-dollar tangle of agriculture subsidies, welfare payments, and environmental patronage.”

In fact, this legislation is really a food-stamp bill with farm programs tacked on. As Bakst and Rachel Sheffield explain, this approach allows urban and rural lawmakers to join forces to spend taxpayer money. Continue Reading »

Why It’s Important If the Suspected Marathon Bombers Received Welfare Benefits

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In Heritage Work

FBI/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom

News reports that suspected Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received large amounts of welfare benefits draw “attention to the policy principle that immigrants should be net contributors to the government and society and should not be a fiscal burden on American society,” The Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Sheffield argues.

As ABC News reports,  the time Tamerlan was receiving state aid “coincides with the years Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly became more radicalized. He was interviewed by the FBI in 2011 after Russia flagged Tsarnaev for his potentially dangerous views.” At the time of the bombing, neither of the brothers was receiving benefits.

Sheffield continues: Continue Reading »

Heritage Scholars Respond to Obama’s State of the Union

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In Heritage Work

Heritage Foundation experts live-blogged President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. Below are excerpts from their reactions.

A ‘Balanced’ Approach to Deficit Reduction

President Obama called for more “balance” in reducing the deficit, though according to Heritage expert Patrick Knudsen this actually means higher taxes:

With the government drowning in red ink, Obama offers a life preserver made of lead: more spending. He has already pocketed a $618 billion tax increase in the fiscal cliff deal (in addition to $1 trillion in new Obamacare taxes). He needs to accept that true “balance” has two sides—and start cutting spending.

Continue Reading »

This Week on Istook Live!

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In Heritage Impact

Heritage Foundation scholar Ernest Istook hosted several leading political commentators and Heritage experts on his program last week.

  • Jason Jones, producer of the film Cresendo, discussed the story and message behind his pro-life film.
  • Penny Nance from Concerned Women for America discussed the new role of women in combat.

Human Events contributor, Tim Cavanaugh discussed how demographic changes in the electorate will shape future elections.

Other guests included Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Heritage’s Lindsey Burke and Rachel Sheffield.

Check in Monday as Istook continues to discuss these and other important issues.  Be sure to tune in 9:00 a.m. to noon Eastern Monday through Friday. Find out more about the show, browse show archives, and listen live on istook.com

How Big Government Policies Affect Mothers’ Decisions to Work

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In Heritage Work

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen made condescending remarks last week about Ann Romney, wife of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying that Romney had “never worked a day in her life”. Rosen later called her words “poorly chosen.”

Survey data suggests that many women would prefer to spend more time at home with their children, as Ann Romney did. A 2007 Pew Survey found that “70 percent of full-time working mothers with children under 18 would prefer to work either part-time or not at all.”

But as The Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Sheffield explains, big government policies affect a mother’s decision to work outside the home: Continue Reading »

The Importance of Defining Poverty In America

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In Heritage Work

Photo: Flickr/Kymberly Janisch

If you examine the Census Bureau’s latest poverty findings, you may be fooled into thinking that the number of poor people in America has climbed to record highs.

In fact, Heritage Foundation experts argue, the bureau’s new measure is misleading, redefining poverty to reflect income inequality–and thereby bolstering the case for a left-wing agenda.

The new poverty measurement does correct some mistakes of the old measurement by including welfare benefits received by low-income families, which the old measurement largely ignored, Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield argue.

Nonetheless, “inaccurate as the old measure was, the new measure is much worse.” Continue Reading »

More Students Enjoy Unprecedented Educational Freedom in 2011

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In Heritage Work

In 2011, more than 200,000 children in 18 states and the District of Columbia are benefitting from private school choice options.

In a new report published by The Heritage Foundation, Lindsey Burke and Rachel Sheffield report than in these 19 jurisdictions,

  • Nine states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island—offer education tax credits to encourage businesses and individuals to make donations to organizations that provide tuition scholarships to students to attend private school.
  • Nine states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs: Colorado (Douglas County), Florida (special needs), Georgia (special needs), Indiana, Louisiana (New Orleans and special needs), Ohio (Cleveland, Ed Choice, special needs, and Autism scholarships), Oklahoma (special needs), Utah (special needs), Wisconsin (Milwaukee and Racine County), and Washington, D.C.
  • Five states—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, and Minnesota—offer tax deductions to reduce their state income-tax liabilities by taking deductions on education-related expenses, including private-school tuition.

Continue Reading »

Stephen Colbert ‘Celebricules’ Heritage Poverty Report

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In Heritage Impact

A new Heritage Foundation report on the reality of poverty in America is receiving quite a bit of attention. Pundits on both the left and the right have taken notice.

But the attention is not limited to politicos and policy wonks.

Stephen Colbert recently devoted a segment on his Comedy Central “news” program, The Colbert Report, to “celebricule” – one website‘s term for celebrating and ridiculing – Heritage’s report.

Though Colbert takes the report out of context and distorts both its evidence and its conclusions to support his humor, in his own odd way he manages to drive home Heritage’s key point. And that point is, as report authors Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield explain: “Poverty remains an issue of serious social concern, but accurate information about that problem is essential in crafting wise public policy.”

The Truth About Poverty in America

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In Heritage Work

Percentage of Poor Households with Amenities

Shrill media reports and lawmaker harangues about poverty typically exaggerate the true extent of deprivation in the United States, according to a new report from The Heritage Foundation.

“Some poor Americans do experience significant hardships, including temporary food shortages or inadequate housing, but these individuals are a minority within the overall poverty population,” explain Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield.

Heritage’s Mike Brownfield points out some of the report’s unexpected findings:

You’ll be surprised to learn that many of the 30 million Americans defined as “poor” and in need of government assistance aren’t quite what you’d expect—rather than homeless and on the streets, the average poor American household has luxuries like air conditioning, cable TV, and X-box video game consoles.

Rector and Sheffield argue in “What Is Poverty?” that “wise public policy cannot be based on misinformation or misunderstanding.” Instead,

Anti-poverty policy must be based on an accurate assessment of actual living conditions and the causes of deprivation. In the long term, grossly exaggerating the extent and severity of material deprivation in the U.S. will benefit neither the poor, the economy, nor society as a whole.

What do you think is the right solution to poverty? Tell us in the comments.

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