After it was announced that the state of Indiana would no longer waive the federal work requirement for some food stamp applicants, thousands of residents were put on notice that they would be getting their benefits cut. Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence gave his reason for why the controversial change was made.
Following the financial crisis of 2008, millions of Americans fell under the poverty line and became recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the food stamp program. Many states decided to waive the federal work requirement in order to combat the results of the economic meltdown. One state that is no longer going to waive the requirement is Indiana. Starting in 2015, new applicants that are “able bodied” and don’t have children will be required to work at least 20 hours, or be in job training to receive food stamps. Speaking about this issue during a November 17 segment titled “Entitlement Nation” on Fox News was Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
“We’ve seen our labor force grow by 50,000. We just thought it was very important to go back to a core principal of welfare reform,” Pence said, noting that the state wants people either be working or looking for work if they want to benefit long term from the food stamp program. “How do you feel about people who say you are targeting poor people?,” asked host Brian Kilmeade. Pence responded that by cutting food stamps and reinserting the work requirement, that he was “ennobling” the working poor by putting them into the work place.
“You know, it’s the old story. Give someone a fish, and they’ll eat for a day. Teach them to fish, they’ll eat for a lifetime. I think this is an idea whose time has come here in the state of Indiana.”
The current unemployment rate in Indiana is 5.7 percent, just below the national average. While the job situation is improving in the state, many are still worried that the new requirements will be a burden on too many people who are struggling to make ends meet. Speaking to the local Fox affiliate, Jessica Fraser, a program manager for the Indiana Institute for Working Families, notes that, “one of the concerns that we have about these able-bodied adults without dependents is that they do have barriers; just because they’re not federally designated as disabled.” The exact number of residents who will lose their food stamps is unknown, but according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, up to 65,000 people could see a cut in their benefits at the start of 2015.