The congressional “Super Committee” is currently looking at ways for the federal government to save money. One option it should consider is food-stamp reform: Loopholes in federal law allow states to abuse the program — which is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — and reforms could save billions of dollars. The savings are a drop in the bucket of the U.S. deficit, but reform would end a massive fraud against federal taxpayers, and it would not come at the expense of the people whom food stamps are intended to help.
The problem with the food-stamp program is that while the federal government pays for all of the benefits and half the administrative costs, state governments have a fair amount of leeway in setting eligibility requirements. In other words, states can increase spending without bearing the cost of doing so. Unsurprisingly, SNAP spending has quadrupled in the last ten years, and was rising at a rapid clip well before the recession took hold.
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