Policy Documents

Reforming the Food Stamp Program

Robert Rector and Katherine Bradley –
July 25, 2012

The food stamp program is due for reauthorization as part of a new farm bill. It is the second most expensive means-tested aid program, increasing from $19.8 billon in 2000 to $84.6 billion in 2011, and President Barack Obama has proposed a budget to keep food stamp spending at sharply elevated levels for the next decade. The national debt has topped $16 trillion and will continue to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future. To preserve the economy, government spending, including welfare spending, must be put on a more prudent course. Congress and the Administration should transform food stamps into a program that encourages work and self-sufficiency, close eligibility loopholes, and, after the recession ends, reduce food stamp spending to pre-recession levels.