Reed’s Comments Misinforms Us on SNAP Work Requirements

Rep. Reed

You have recently supported bills that puts the burden of the economy on the backs to the most needy, the reduction of the SNAP funds, the reduction of funds for pre-school education and the proposed HR 3434 which blocks  temporary aid to families under certain conditions.

What have you supported that puts the burden of the economy on those who have earnings of over $500,000?

The above question was one of three that I brought to Rep. Reed’s Town Hall Meeting at Bath  November 16. I wanted to point out that legislation he voted for really did put the burden of the economy on his poorest constituents. I also wanted to know if I missed legislation that had  high earners helping the economy.

There were a lot of questions handed into Rep. Reed’s District Director Joe Sempolinski.  Joe spread them out on a table at the front of the Bath Village Court Room, putting letters on similar issues together.  Surprisingly, about 25 minutes into the meeting, Joe chose my letter and read it to Tom and the group gathered at the meeting. Luckily I  video taped the meeting so I have the dialogue of Rep. Reed’s  answer to my question:

Reed: The question mentioned SNAP. We reduced the SNAP money, by, um $39 billion dollars, right, as scored by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), ok. I get a-a-l-l-l-l of these people calling in saying “How can you do that. How can you take away $39 billion dollars of people who are on Food Stamps? So then, I ask those same people, “Well do you know what the $39 billion reduction is?”

“No, it’s a number, it’s just less money going out the door.”

OK, $20 billion…comes from a  a simple reform in the food stamp program that I believe is a common sense reform. And it says, Able bodied people without kids would have to have a job, go to school, volunteer in the community as they receive food stamps. Why is that important common sense to me? Because what you’re doing is that you are empowering people to get a tool,  or encouraging them to get a job. So they can get a tool to get job, or get a job that gets some out of the program. And that is $20 billion out of the $39 billion. And I said, “What is wrong with that? Can anybody tell me what is wrong with that?”

Lady in the audience: “There are no jobs.”

Reed: “So you can volunteer.”

Man in the audience: “There is no proper child care.”

Reed: “These are people with out kids.”

Man: “Oh.”

Reed: These are able-bodied people without kids.

ME: Isn’t this the law now in New York?

Reed: No. Not  for food stamps. It is for Tanf [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] and other provisions like that, but that is another issue.  And that gets to the remaining portion of the reductions.

We have programs that are in silos when it comes to our welfare programs, our social welfare programs and they don’t coordinate with each other. So Tanf, which is cash welfare, has work requirements. Food Stamps, which is another form of social welfare, does not. LiHeap, which is low income heating, there is essentially no requirements there. So, and then WIC [Women, Infant, Children] has a whole nother set of requirements and other restrictions.

(The conversation goes on about the lack of communication between agencies, etc.)

Did you notice that my original question was never answered? Not only was it never answered, there was no attempt to even mention the $500,000 income earners. Joe, when he chose my question, was drawn to it because he saw it as a talking point Reed knows well. It’s like batting practice with warm up pitcher Joe lobbing easy pitches to batter Reed to hit out of the park.

Did you notice my second question–the one in bold print–“Isn’t this the law now in New York?” Twice Reed told the audience there was no work requirements to receive SNAP funds. THAT IS FALSE.  I first checked the websites of the counties in our congressional district, and many have information about the work requirements.  Here is the information from the Schuyler County website:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Eligibility

SNAP is a federally funded program administered by local Social Services for the United State Department of Agriculture. Eligibility is based on income and resource standards for family size and life situation, and there are work requirements for some people. Owning a home is not an issue, and there are no liens put on residential property. View income standards.

I believe that counties in New York State have the same SNAP requirement. You may want to check out your country’s website to see what it says about your Department of Social Services. Remember it is the county’s decision how much detail they place on their website.

The ‘some people’ mentioned in the article, and by Rep. Reed,  are the officially called “Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents,”or “ABAWD”.

According to Amy Miller, Commissioner of the Yates County Department of Social Services, every ABAWD has to fill out a work registration form and has to search for work, similar to those who receive unemployment payments. SNAP recipients may be required to go to job training sessions.

Commissioner Miller provided to the Yates County Legislature a report that contained  the following information (the bold font was added):

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

This is a Federal Government Program designed to supplement food purchases.

There are 1,248 active SNAP Cases (2,379 individuals). There were 1,011 new applications for SNAP last year. SNAP recipients are required to work unless they have a child under the age of five. All but 29 cases [note: this represents 2% of active YC’s Active SNAP cases] have a child under 5 or are working. The cost of the program is 100% Federally Funded. In 2012 $1,875, 122 in SNAP benefits were spent in Yates County businesses.”

What did I have learned from the meeting in Bath?

  • Since Rep. Reed did not answer my question about burdening those who earn $500,000 or higher to help improve our economy, I have to assume the answer is “No, I have not supported a bill that puts any economic burden on people who earn $500,000 or more.”
  • Rep. Reed uses the Town Hall Meetings not as a way to answer our questions, but, like a magician, he uses them to turn questions into talking point topics. He doesn’t give you the whole story, just the points he wants you to know.
  • In this case he told the audience that there are no work requirements for “Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents” to receive SNAP (aka Food Stamps) benefits. The audience, many probably already have disdain towards SNAP users, believed him. Unfortunately, Reed’s misinformation may have given some people more unfounded reasons to despise  SNAP users.
  •  In reality there is a work requirement for those who do not have dependent children. When a newspaper prints an error, they correct it. Rep. Reed doesn’t.
  • The sad realism is that we can not trust Rep. Reed; he needs to be constantly fact-checked. We need to have someone in congress who is uniter, not a divider.

About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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17 Responses to Reed’s Comments Misinforms Us on SNAP Work Requirements

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    This is a very informing report. Thank you.
    Rep. Reed’s come back when told ‘there are no jobs’ of “So you can volunteer.” is beyond unreasonable; it is just plain stupid. Can’t find a job, so volunteer? How many volunteers get PAID? How many unemployed can spare the gas money to drive to volunteer work?

    Does Reed even realize what he is suggesting? Because, I would rather think him a fool, than believe he is that incredibly insensitive and cruel. In either case, I am so very ready for representation that concerns herself with the realities of NY23rd’s most underserved constituents.

    Like

  2. Deb Meeker says:

    Reminiscent of “let them eat cake”.

    Like

  3. whungerford says:

    Tom’s reaction to constituents complaints about SNAP is disheartening: he dismisses them as unfounded. He says he only wants able bodied individuals w/o kids to work, go to school, or volunteer, yet he is already counting the savings from denying people benefits. Tom says he is against “red tape,” yet here he supports another layer of intrusive verification.

    Like

  4. bob mcgill says:

    Obama’s America:
    Unmaking the American Dream

    by Dinesh D’Souza
    Available on Amazon
    Want to be a sponsor? Click here.

    Continued from Welfare Fraud and Abuse

    Some say that welfare fraud is not a significant problem. While there is a general feeling that welfare fraud is rampant, advocates for welfare programs insist that fraud is only found in 2%-3% of cases researched by the thousands of welfare investigators across the nation. It certainly is possible that more fraud takes place than is being reported. There isn’t any way to really substantiate that feeling, however, without it actually being reported. We know that some fraud exists; but, with such low rates of it being found, it certainly isn’t the biggest challenge that welfare programs face. Is welfare fraud a big enough problem with which we should even concern ourselves?

    Let’s run some numbers to find out. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau findings, there are 114.8 Million families in the US. With 34.2% of US families “on welfare” (see related article: An Expansion of the Welfare State), this means that approximately 39.3 Million homes receive monthly welfare benefits. The Federal government expects to spend $451.9 Billion in 2012 on welfare expenditures. This averages out to roughly $11,500 annually per family or $958 per family per month.

    If the fraud rate is only 2%-3%, how much money could it really be costing us? Well…these low rates would mean that roughly 785,000 to 1.2 Million families are illegally receiving welfare benefits. At the average rate of $11,500 per year, this is costing the tax payers between $9.0 – $13.5 Billion dollars every year. This is as much or more than the cost of teen pregnancy. (see related article: Homes Built on Sand) While the percentage may be small, the cost is still quite high. It isn’t enough to make up the $1.5 Trillion Federal budget deficit; but, it is still significant.

    Like

  5. Deb Meeker says:

    Dear Dinesh D’Souza,
    “Is welfare fraud a big enough problem with which we should even concern ourselves?”

    NO.

    Like

  6. Bob McGILL says:

    “The Federal government expects to spend $451.9 Billion in 2012 on welfare expenditures. This averages out to roughly $11,500 annually per family or $958 per family per month.”
    ” If the fraud rate is only 2%-3%,”
    THAT’S A MIGHTY BIG IF——-there are people who work under the table, have boy friends living with them, and keep having kids so the check is bigger and they don’t have to work !!!!!! With all the help wanted signs in my town, not finding a job is questionable,Wal-Mart has had a help wanted sign on their door forever ! so has Express Mart.

    Like

  7. pystew says:

    Bob, the point of this article is that our congressman lied to his constituents. He has taken the republican double-speak talking points and told us that there is no work requirements to receive SNAP benefits, when there certainly are.

    He doesn’t have these wonderful Town Hall Meetings to listen to what the people who hired him is saying; he uses them to us indoctrinate us with his right-wing rhetoric that increases fear and hatred of fellow Americans. With his misinformation, he did a good job of getting bolstering up his base of supporters.

    We deserve better.

    Like

  8. Bob McGILL says:

    That would be your opinion ! We were at the Geneva meeting,was that your opinion on that one too ? If it is, then I would say you seem to have a problem !!!!! But I will bet you if they start requiring a drug test to be able to collect benefits the numbers will drop dramatically. 🙂

    Like

  9. pystew says:

    Yes, the phrase ” We deserve better” is an opinion, but it is fact that he misinformed the 30-40 who were at the Bath meeting about SNAP work requirements. He is assuming that no one at that meeting went home and fact-checked what he said. Did you leave the Fayette meeting and checked out any of his statements?

    I went to Geneva with high hopes that Rep. Reed really wanted to hear our opinion. I was disappointed that he came, and actually announced that, he already had his mind made up. That was before he went to DC to hear from the experts, including classified information that you and I are not privy to. He got all he needed to know from the Republican Party. He will be voting against anything the President is for. I am waiting to hear his comments on the Iran nuclear negotiations, especially since he was against the possibility of violence in Syria when he was in Geneva.

    Google “Drug Tests” and the first item that pops up is “Drug Tests for welfare”. Try it. Look at the top items, “An inane, money-eating sham: Drug tests for welfare a huge failure …”, “Trey Radel arrest brings up drug testing for food stamps”, “The Myth of Welfare and Drug Use”, “Welfare Drug Testing Catches Only 12 Users In Utah”.

    The Constitution’s fifth amendment states it is illegal for searches without probable clause. Signing up for benefits does not necessarily lead to the use of illegal drugs.

    Drug testing the welfare participants would cost a lot of money. If the idea that the government needs to make sure that tax payer’s money does not go to those who use drugs, we need to make sure those corporations who get tax money also need to be drug tested. I would rather have senators and representatives get drug tested. I would like them to have weekly lie detector tests results be made public.

    Thanks for asking.

    Like

  10. Bob McGILL says:

    As I recall what Tom said was that ” In the event of possible air strikes, civilians would be used as human shields and placed around any possible target. Civilian deaths would enrage the militants and more violence would be certain. Makes perfect sence to me.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/…/state_profile_-_new_york_0.p…‎Cached
    Similar New York At-a-Glance: • In 2009-2010, New York was one of the top ten states for drug-use rates in several categories: past-year cocaine use among persons …

    Like

  11. pystew says:

    I believe you are correct, Bob.

    Like

  12. Bob McGILL says:

    BUT, BUT, BUT, you didn’t read the whole thing !!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    Supporters of the program are pointing to about 250 people who failed to meet drug screening requirements during the year and were barred from receiving or applying for benefits for three months.

    Those people would have otherwise received more than $350,000 in benefits, according to the state Department of Workforce Services, which administers the welfare program and the drug screening.

    Like

  13. Bob McGILL says:

    http://www.deseretnews.com/…/Utah-officials-say-welfare-drug-tests-save-mon…‎
    NOW READ IT AGAIN !!!!!!! it seems that you only see what you want to see !!!!

    Like

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