The House Republicans (cough, rubes) worked a very, very modest “reform” into the Food Stamp Bill to cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse. The Governors of Democrat-Run states conspired with Democrats in Congress to make sure the Food Stamp gravy train didn’t slow down.
One of the farm bill’s ballyhooed reforms was closing the “heat and eat” loophole, which allows states to leverage federal funds from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (Liheap) to raise food-stamp eligibility and payments. Fifteen states as well as Washington, D.C. participate in “heat and eat,” and more may join once they realize how their liberal neighbors are milking Uncle Sam.
Democratic state politicians have thus expanded their food-stamp rolls by distributing more federal heating checks, amounting to as little as $1 per year in many states and $0.10 in California. The heat and eat scheme is one reason annual food-stamp payouts have tripled over the last decade to about $83 billion. Taxpayers now help foot the grocery bills for one of seven Americans.
House Republicans sought to force modest food-stamp reforms such as work requirements and asset tests in the farm bill, but they ultimately settled for raising the Liheap trigger for receiving the utility deduction to $20 per year. The Congressional Budget Office predicted this change would affect 850,000 households—about 4% of food-stamp beneficiaries—and save $8.6 billion over 10 years. Too bad this overlooked the incentive for states to goose heating payments.
[Democrat] Governor Dannel Malloy last week announced that Connecticut would “expend $1.4 million in available federal energy assistance funding” to raise minimum Liheap payments for 50,000 beneficiaries, or about a quarter of its food-stamp rolls. The increase to a nice round $20.01 from $1 will “preserve approximately $66.6 million” a year in food-stamp benefits. So Connecticut will leverage $1 in additional federal Liheap funds to reap $48 more from Washington for food stamps.
Mr. Malloy’s neighbor Andrew Cuomo jumped for the free lunch the next day by declaring that New York would “dedicate approximately $6 million in additional federal” heating assistance to maintain $457 million in food-stamp payments.
Democrats made this swindle possible by adding some $169 million in additional heating assistance to cold-weather states to this year’s omnibus spending bill, including $50 million for New York. Meantime, 15 Democratic Senators have written to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius begging for even more heat rub to assuage the food-stamp non-cuts. They were joined last week by 18 big-city mayors including Eric Garcetti from the Los Angeles tundra and Greg Stanton of the Phoenix arctic.
See why I think “Let it burn” is the only realistic option?