Food Stamps: the New Normal

By Kirsten Salyer

Remember when Newt Gingrich labeled President Barack Obama the “food-stamp president” in January? Almost 15 percent of Americans — a record high — now rely on the government for their most basic necessity: food.

The number of Americans using food stamps rose to 46.7 million in June, reigniting the debate over the amount of food-stamp spending the government should provide. The total cost for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the fiscal year ending September 2011 was $75.7 billion, more than double the amount four years before.

Former President George W. Bush expanded the program as part of the 2002 farm bill, Congress voted to expand it again in 2008, and Obama included extensions in his 2009 stimulus package. The system has become more accessible to more people, swapping out coupons for a debit card-like system and easing requirements.

As Democrats prepare to nominate Obama for a second term, news that about one in seven Americans uses food stamps doesn’t look good for his economic record, the Wall Street Journal wrote Tuesday. The House budget plan sponsored by Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan would cut food-stamp expenses by $33 billion over 10 years.

Households of four with a gross monthly income of less than $2,422 are eligible for up to a $668 monthly food-stamp allotment, about $167 per person. About 47 percent of recipients are children, and 8 percent are elderly, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read More Here