U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the Senate farm bill, of which 80 percent goes to the food stamp program:
"A shocking 80 percent of the farm bill's spending now goes to food stamps. This has been the fastest growing major federal program in recent years. It has expanded fourfold since just 2001, and even as the economy slowly improves, enrollment is projected to remain permanently elevated above pre-recession levels. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans now receives food stamps, which is just one of the roughly 80 means-tested welfare programs on which the nation now collectively spends $1 trillion annually. Left unattended, this safety net can turn into a restraint. Our goal must be to transition people from dependence to self-sufficiency whenever possible.
A large part of the increase can be attributed to specific governmental policies designed to increase enrollment--even among those who say they don't need financial assistance. USDA has given awards to recruitment workers for overcoming a community's "mountain pride" to get them to accept benefits when they say they are not needed. Countless other examples abound.
But rather than making any meaningful attempt to restrain the surging growth in the food stamp program, the Senate bill protects and shields it from reform.
It can no longer be our goal to place as many Americans as possible on welfare support. Instead, the goal must be to help as many Americans as possible achieve financial independence."