(NaturalNews) A new study has found that not only is the food stamp program the fastest growing welfare entitlement in the nation, it is one of the most inefficient - and it's being driven by an abhorrent quota system that should enrage taxpayers.
Currently, the study found, some 47 million people are participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is more commonly known as food stamps. Costs have skyrocketed 358 percent since 2000, so this isn't just an "Obama" thing, though the present administration is most responsible for the program's most recent rapid growth.
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon:
The increase in recent years cannot be attributed to the economic recession, according to Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, but lax eligibility requirements and an aggressive campaign by governments to boost their rolls.
"This program has expanded rapidly over the last decade in a way that is not justified by the recession that we went through," Tanner said. "There's very little bang for all this increased buck."
Government has hired 'food stamp recruiters'
Tanner's report is entitled "SNAP Failure: The Food Stamp Program Needs Reform," and it finds that the cost of the entire food stamp program 13 years ago was $17 billion. Today, that cost has risen to an astounding $78 billion, and it's increasing.
What's more, spending to advertise the program and other outreach has now risen to $41.3 million per year - a dramatic rise that clearly indicates the Obama administration is purposefully growing the program.
The Free Beacon states:
States like Florida have hired "food stamp recruiters," who have a quota of signing up 150 new recipients each month. Rhode Island hosts "SNAP-themed bingo games," and the USDA tells its field offices to throw parties to get more people on their rolls.
But even these efforts aren't enough. Incredibly, the United States Department of Agriculture, which administers the food stamp program, says 18 million Americans remain "food insecure."
What the program is really good at, Tanner notes, is breeding more government dependence - which was apparent recently when the EBT system collapsed briefly in several states, which resulted in chaos. One Walmart store was nearly picked clean by thieves who thought they could load up on stuff while the system was down, even though they knew they didn't have nearly enough on their EBT cards to cover what they had in their overstuffed carts.
"The left is correct when they talk about how small food stamp benefits are, about an average of $4.50 a day," Tanner said. "And yet we're told that people can't survive without them."
"There's something wrong in our society when people can't survive without getting five bucks from the government," he said.
The food stamp program has become the second-most costly of federal means-tested programs behind Medicaid. As stated above, the expansion of SNAP is due both to Democrats and Republicans.
Reports the Free Beacon:
Tanner traces the modern food stamp program back to President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed the Food Stamp Act of 1964. Not until the presidency of George W. Bush, however, did the program increase dramatically, and the pace has only accelerated under President Barack Obama.
Food stamps becoming generational
Under Bush, the 2002 and 2008 farm bills expanded eligibility in the SNAP program so that even non-citizens can qualify. By the time Obama took office in 2009, there were 31.8 million Americans enrolled in SNAP, up from 17 million in 2000. That figure has soared to nearly 48 million during Obama's regime.
Some analysts say the dramatic increase is due to the Great Recession, but Tanner says there is little evidence to support that.
"Increases in both participation and spending were bigger during this recession than in previous ones," he writes.
"SNAP is no longer a program targeted at the poorest Americans who may need some temporary help, but it has become part of an ever-growing permanent welfare state," he says in his report.
What's more, almost 17 percent of recipients have income levels that are actually above the poverty line, a phenomenon that Tanner says is due to weak eligibility standards. Furthermore, a majority - 56 percent - have remained on the program for more than five years. Fewer than 10 percent are on food stamps for six months or less, so obviously the program is becoming generational.