Turning SNAP (food stamps) into a block grant…

January 11th, 2016 at 8:33 am

…is a terrible idea that would do to SNAP’s invaluable countercyclical function what welfare reform did to TANF’s. That’s the point of this piece over at WaPo this AM.

Because I wrote this on Sunday and didn’t want to spend the whole day futzing with data, I used annual data for the figure. But the monthly data shown below (which are easy to get for SNAP; harder for TANF) more clearly show the recent reversal in SNAP caseloads, which lag the recovery for all the reasons I mentioned in my post.

The figure shows SNAP caseloads as a share of the population. Spikes are due to events, like Katrina, that lead to a sudden, sharp bump in SNAP receipt.

I only have a few cycles in there, but the current pattern is similar–adjusting for depth of the downturn–to the early 1990s recession/recovery. Read Dottie R’s link in my WaPo piece re another important factor in play in this recession: the increase in participation rates among “eligibles,” something I judge to be a positive development.

Source: USDA, BEA

Source: USDA, BEA

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2 comments in reply to "Turning SNAP (food stamps) into a block grant…"

  1. Robert Salzberg says:

    I wonder if all the Right Wing Nut screaming about Obama being the food stamp president and all the negative publicity on the percentage of people on SNAP has encouraged more people to see if they’re eligible. Just deserts, huh?