Welfare Rolls Plummet in States That Make One Tiny Rule Change

In a development that will only come as a surprise to those lacking a scintilla of economic literacy (in other words, liberals), Fox News reports that the food stamp rolls are shrinking in several states, for a very simple reason.

Following the food stamp explosion of the Obama years, states have been moving to re-impose work requirements on public assistance, and the results speak for themselves:

According to AL.com, the number of recipients [in 13 Alabama counties] declined from 5,538 to 831 between Jan. 1 and the beginning of May – an 85 percent drop.

Similar changes were implemented in select counties in Georgia and by the end of the first three months, the number of adults receiving benefits in three participating counties dropped 58 percent, according to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation […]

In October 2014, [Maine Republican Gov. Paul] LePage announced that able-bodied adults would have to find work, spend 20 hours per week in a work program, or perform community service for six hours a week.

Food stamp participation declined 14.5 percent from 235,771 in January 2014 to 201,557 in January 2015, according to the state.

An analysis of a group of 7,000 Mainers who left SNAP in 2014 found their total earnings increased from $3.85 million in the third quarter 2014 to $8.24 million in the last quarter of 2015.

Kansas saw a 75 percent decline after implementing work requirements in 2013. In addition, nearly 60 percent of former beneficiaries found employment within 12 months and their incomes rose by an average of 127 percent per year, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Accordingly, Congressional Republicans Mike Lee and Jim Jordan are introducing legislation to apply this common sense nationally, requiring able-bodied and childless adults to participate in “work activation” programs if they want food stamps, which would also be subject to a new time limit. Jordan’s reasoning why says it all:

We should be incentivizing work, not providing a disincentive to find a job, which is a good thing both for the taxpayer as well as for the beneficiary […] The focus of these programs should be on how we can help adults get their families to a better way of life.

What’s remarkable here is not simply the size of the turnaround, but the speed. Barack Obama opened the floodgates by letting states waive work requirements at the beginning of his presidency, doubling the food stamp rolls. That’s eight years of acclimation to government dependence and atrophied work ethics. Yet the simple act of requiring people to take a measure of responsibility for their own fortunes was enough to get a tremendous amount of people independent in a matter of months.

Apparently necessity is one of the only motivators most people need.

Let’s hope Lee and Jordan are successful in their efforts to restore sanity to federal government handouts. As these states just demonstrated, it’s not just the fiscally responsible thing to do; it’s also the most truly compassionate.