By failing to meet Georgia’s new requirements that force able-bodied people without children to find jobs, thousands of Georgia residents who depend on food stamps have lost their benefits.
The new work requirements have been phased in over the past year with the latest phase impacting approximately 12,000 people in 21 counties.
A report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that more than half of them, or 7,251, were removed from the food stamp program because they were not employed.
The program is scheduled to be expanded to all of Georgia’s 159 counties, pushing thousands more people to find employment or lose their benefits.
“The greater good is people being employed, being productive and contributing to the state,” said Bobby Cagle, director of the state Department of Family and Children Services.
According to a blog post on the website of the liberal group Better Georgia, the work-for-food stamps program is “thinly veiled greed and racism,” which “promises to cause considerable upset in the lives of thousands of Georgians who are already struggling to survive.”
“They fail to recognize that the majority of people classified as ‘able-bodied’ are in fact not able to work,” claimed the blog’s author, Shelby Steuart. “Many people who rely on food stamps are unable to keep sustainable employment because of issues including low levels of education, mental health issues, undiagnosed medical problems and criminal records.”
State Rep. Greg Morris (R) asserted that the magnitude of the problem of welfare fraud in Georgia was revealed when thousands of people lost their benefits.
“This is about protecting taxpayer dollars from abuse, and taking people off the cycle of dependency,” Morris said.
Benita Dodd, vice president of the conservative Georgia Public Policy Foundation, contends that the ultimate goal of the program was not to save taxpayer dollars.
“The goal must be to focus aid on those who truly need help and restore the dignity of work to able-bodied adults,” Dodd wrote. “Reducing dependency and promoting economic opportunity help end the cycle of poverty, reinforce the temporary nature of assistance and encourage personal responsibility.”
President Trump intends to replicate Georgia’s plan on a national scale. The president’s proposed federal budget would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by approximately 25 percent, or more than $190 million, over the next 10 years, and would require able-bodied adults to work.
In his letter to Congress accompanying his proposed budget, Trump wrote, “We must reform our welfare system so that it does not discourage able-bodied adults from working, which takes away scarce resources from those in real need. Work must be the center of our social policy.”
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