Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Shriver Center to Rodney Davis: “Starving people is not an effective job creation program”
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Shriver Center to Rodney Davis: “Starving people is not an effective job creation program”

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release from yesterday…

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today sent a letter to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner requesting further information about a waiver the State of Illinois submitted in November to exempt every county except for one from work requirements within the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP).

“The biggest concern I hear right now from employers is the inability to hire for the jobs they have available,” said Davis. “These are good paying jobs that we need taken to keep our economy growing and they’re jobs that help people get out of poverty. I want to make sure our state is doing everything they can to pair those who can work with these jobs. The Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents work requirement was a bipartisan initiative put in place during the Clinton Administration, but it seems states continue to exploit loopholes. Just because the rules allow it, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily what’s best for our our state so I’m hoping to get a little more clarification from Governor Rauner on the need for a waiver.”

Under current law, Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) who are are enrolled in the SNAP program have been subject to a work requirement since 1996, under President Clinton. This requirement is 80 hours per month of either working or workforce development activities such as SNAP Employment and Training. If that individual does not comply with the work requirement, they are limited to receiving SNAP benefits for 3 months in a 3 year period.

States can apply for a waiver from the time limit for ABAWDs if there are areas within the state that have an unemployment rate of over 10% or if there is a lack of sufficient jobs. In 2001, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) promulgated a final rule establishing that areas could qualify where the unemployment rate was 20% higher than the national average for 24 months. Additionally, the Obama Administration released further guidance in 2016 outlining how states could establish the need for waiver.

Davis fought for stricter work requirements and a nearly $1 billion a year investment in SNAP Employment and Training programs in the most recent farm bill. Unfortunately, these reforms were not included in the final bill.

* I asked the Shriver Center for a response and here’s Dan Lesser…

The Republican Congress just passed a Farm Bill that rejects the harsh work requirement penalties Cong. Davis advocates for. It did so in recognition that starving people is not an effective job creation program.

Gov. Rauner is to be commended for taking action through a waiver request to protect SNAP benefits for 200,000-300,000 Illinoisans, almost of whom face major and sometimes multiple major barriers to working 20 hours per week, including functional illiteracy, undiagnosed mental illness, and a criminal record. The meager SNAP benefits that these single adults receive — $192/month with no other assistance — is hardly enough to function as a work disincentive, as some would have you believe..

Empirical research has shown that the vast majority of men and women who would be cut off SNAP because they are not working at least 20 hours per week want to work. They either aren’t able to work, can’t find a job, can’t maintain 20 hours per week of employment in our unstable, low-wage work market, or are actually meeting the 20 hour requirement but are being cut off through bureaucratic errors.

* But

The Trump administration is setting out to do what this year’s farm bill didn’t: tighten work requirements for millions of Americans who receive federal food assistance. […]

The USDA’s proposed rule would strip states’ ability to issue waivers unless a city or county has an unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher. The waivers would be good for one year and would require the governor to support the request. States would no longer be able to bank their 15 percent exemptions. The new rule also would forbid states from granting waivers for geographic areas larger than a specific jurisdiction. […]

A Brookings Institute study published this summer said more stringent work requirements are likely to hurt those who are already part of the workforce but whose employment is sporadic. […]

“I expect the rule will face significant opposition and legal challenges.” [said the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan]

…Adding… Congressman Davis responded to the proposed federal rule…

“Our safety-net is catching people when they fall, but it’s doing little to help them get back on their feet,” said Davis. “We have employers who can’t fill jobs, yet 74 percent of able-bodied adults without dependents on SNAP are not working. The proposed rule restores the intent of the 1996 law, which was passed in a divided government to help more individuals find a good-paying job and become less reliant on government assistance. I still believe greater investment is needed in our employment and training programs like we had in the House-passed farm bill and I want to work with our state to ensure they have what they need to help place people in open jobs.”


  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:28 am:

    I find Davis as sincere on this issue as he is about protecting insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. And fiscal responsibility.

  2. - Anon221 - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:30 am:

    “or if there is a lack of sufficient jobs.”

    Even if there are sufficient jobs, say within even 10 miles of where the person lives, if they don’t have reliable transportation to and from that job, that presents a significant barrier to employment. In rural areas there may be limited transportation with the Show Bus, but it doesn’t run everywhere and every time a person may need to use it. Also might cost $10-20 per trip. If Davis is truly concerned about getting people working, he needs to realize that there is more to it than the unemployment rate.

  3. - Nick - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:51 am:

    Whoa, Rodney Davis wanting to do things that hurt poor or needy people? I’m shocked.

  4. - Perrid - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:55 am:

    This isn’t a threat, but I wonder what Rep. Davis’ opinion would be if he was starved until he started acting the way I think he should? And he is no doubt in more control of his behavior than anyone on SNAP is in control of their income.

  5. - Matts - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    “Starving People”…..there’s that ‘meeting half way’ attitude we’ve heard so much about lately/s. Liberals want to kill this and conservatives want full implementation asap. Tea leaves give the libs better odds due to House takeover and economy jitters at present. Each side has legit points….the stunning Sentencing Reform shows compromise is possible. But its a rarity.

  6. - Candace King - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    I completely agree with Dan Lesser on this issue. If someone can work, they should be — and probably are — working. But it’s not as simple as some would think. Child care, transportation, health, family responsibilities all are legitimate barriers to work. If you want people to work, think about increasing wages, providing health insurance and ensuring stable, predictable work schedules.

  7. - Farm Bill Fan - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    What Congressman Davis also fails to recognize is Illinois’ inability to effectively implement a work requirement.

    The implementation of the work requirement in DuPage County has been a disaster. Its estimated that about half of the ABAWDs in DuPage have lost their benefits at one point or another.

    Remember, its not just that ABAWDs have to work 80 hours a month. They have to submit evidence to DHS that they are working. In a department that can’t handle their current volume of phone calls, has overflowing waiting rooms, and is already behind in processing applications, how can we expect them to effectively implement more requirements.

  8. - ChicagoVinny - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    So if I’m following Trump’s pointless and often cruel policies here, we’re going to be reducing food demand via SNAP work requirements at a time when farmers have soybeans rotting in a pile due to Trump’s trade war.

    Seems smart. /s

  9. - Linus - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:39 am:

    Dan Lesser’s response is not only well reasoned, but another example of the great work that he has done as a “do-gooder” lobbo over the years. Hats off to Dan, to Golden Horseshoe winner Polly Poskin, and all their do-gooder kin for speaking up on these issues.

  10. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:53 am:

    What we need are workhouses. People can pick oakum and be fed gruel twice a day.

  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 12:50 pm:

    Great comment cheryl44. Rodney Davis doing his best impression of pre-reform Ebenezer Scrooge. I bet Bruce has the costume, Rodney. Maybe he will even tap you to run for governor.

  12. - Honeybear - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:03 pm:

    1) I had no idea that Rauner requested the waiver again………so thankful.
    Really you have no idea.
    I was thankful last year but no one ever told us that he requested it again.
    We all had to take ABAWD training in the early fall. I was sure he wasn’t going to submit the waiver. I think I even pounded Rauner on it in a post as cruel and evidence of his sociopathic nature.
    I honestly beg forgiveness.
    Folks, this means so so so much
    I work with our fine Illinoisans in need every day
    The work requirement
    Was going to devastate my community
    It would be a perfectly good policy if we had the jobs.
    We just don’t here in the metro east
    It’s getting better
    but we’ve still got to many barriers to self sufficiency.
    It would have pushed thousands into
    really bad food insecurity
    That further destabilizes communities
    And it hits the most vulnerable hardest.
    communities are a tight symbiotic system
    one change effects the whole system
    a tremendous amount.
    Again, the ABAWD work requirements
    were reasonable, sound and well thought out.
    We’re just not ready yet
    Going into the right direction
    But not yet.

    Davis is privileged
    Davis has absolutely no idea how systems of poverty operate and function.

  13. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:24 pm:

    Do you know any couples that are living completely on public aid, while supporting their recreational drug habit? I do.

    It makes it really tough to write out my checks to the IRS and IDOR knowing that these individuals are enjoying their XBOX, free health care, and marijuana without having to work, while I schlep myself off to work everyday.

  14. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:38 pm:

    The number of Americans receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, continues to drop, according to the latest numbers released by the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program.

    As of July 7, 42.6 million Americans were receiving SNAP benefits during the current fiscal year, down from 44.2 million in 2016. The 2017 figure is the lowest since 2010, when 40.3 million people were on food stamps. The number peaked in 2013, at 47.6 million.

    Republican lawmakers have pushed for further limits on exemptions from the work requirement. “There are talented people across our country who aren’t pursuing the full potential of their capabilities, largely because government incentives make it more profitable in some cases to stay home and collect welfare than to pursue personal growth and responsibility through work,” Congressman Garrett Graves, a Republican from Louisiana, said in a statement in June. “Government needs to provide a safety net for the vulnerable, but it’s become a lifestyle for some to actively choose government assistance over work.”

    The government should be incentivizing work, for the benefit of the worker and the country.

    This should be good news to everyone. It is also productive that the government is incentivizing work for able bodied people.

  15. - Past the Rule of 85 - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    ***Do you know any couples that are living completely on public aid, while supporting their recreational drug habit? I do.***

    Big deal. So you know someone who is taking advantage of the system. Any time there is a large program, be it government or private, there are going to be scammers and individuals who abuse it. We can always find anecdotal outliers to make our point. This proposal is nothing more than the old tried and true conservative approach of kicking people while they are down.

    Merry Christmas.

  16. - Not so silent majority - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:58 pm:

    Has an crack reporter thought to ask Rep. Davis for a LIST of these unfilled jobs, their locations and hiring managers phone numbers? FAUXNews is good a tossing out ’some are saying’ and ‘there are thousands of MS-13 members in the caravan’ without any evidence to support the accusations. I suspect our elected by the hair on his chin Congressperson is playing in that sandbox, too.

  17. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:00 pm:

    -We can always find anecdotal outliers to make our point.

    Not really sure it’s an outlier. Care to discuss Sweden’s experiment at providing a guaranteed minimum income? There two year experiment was ended because they found it “subsidized sloth, and discouraged work.”

    Then of course there was this: “In the 1970s, the (U.S.) government ran four random control experiments across six states to try the negative income tax, a similar policy proposal (to the basic income) that was popular at the time. In each test, the work disincentive effect was disastrous. For every $1,000 in added benefits to a family, there was an average reduction in $660 of wages from work.”

  18. - Candace King - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:24 pm:

    Every large program has people on the program who should not be, and also has people who apply but are incorrectly found ineligible. Every effort to crack down on fraud also has the undesired effect of excluding some eligible people. The goal should be to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the ineligibles don’t get benefits while ensuring that the eligibles can get what they need. We, sadly, don’t achieve perfection on either end.

  19. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:32 pm:

    I agree with you assessment. But in addition to the SNAP program there are a myriad of food banks that serve as a critical safety net, as well.

  20. - Liandro - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:35 pm:

    “In rural areas there may be limited transportation with the Show Bus, but it doesn’t run everywhere and every time a person may need to use it. Also might cost $10-20 per trip.”

    You very sure about that? Across the state groups like the Lee-Ogle Transportation System (LOTS) cost way less than what you claim, and can generally be scheduled–especially if that schedule is consistent.

    Not sure where you hail from, but LOTS has sister organizations across the state. If they run anywhere near as well as LOTS, then you are over-stating the problem by a large margin.

  21. - Downstate - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    “Also might cost $10-20 per trip.”

    Central Illinois Public Transit costs $3 per trip. $6 round trip.

  22. - Liandro - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    In looking over SHOW Bus, it would appear to be the same grant system…hopefully it is as effective. It was hard to tell if it as easy to arrange rides.

    Quite frankly, the biggest problems those agencies have is that not enough people know about them.

  23. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:20 pm:

    We lead the Midwest in percentage of residents receiving SNAP benefits at 15%

    Iowa- 12%
    Indiana- 10%
    Michigan- 14%
    Minnesota- 8%
    Missouri- 12%
    Wisconsin- 12%

    Even California is only at 10%, New Jersey at 9%, New York at 15%

    I thought it was the blue states that were supposed to be all providing ladders of opportunity to poor and middle class people

    Pro growth polices that incentive work and investment in the state are needed desperately

  24. - Marky Mark - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:41 pm:

    Downstate, I think you mean FINLAND. The only article I can find that uses the word “sloth” to describe the Finnish pilot project is an American editorial from a conservative publication. I don’t see any evidence that anyone with subject matter expertise in social welfare contributed to that editorial. Moreover, the editorial’s conclusion does not align with the findings of the small, very time-limited pilot in Finland.

  25. - Union thug - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    Keep talking about incentive to work. Guess what would help. A living wage. Then they may be able to afford the transportation to get to work. My experience some accessable job training and education to make better jobs accessable. Same ones complaining about entitlements are the same ones that complain about a living wage.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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