“SNAP benefits cost $76.4 billion in fiscal year 2013. A large portion of which went to abusers of the program. In an attempt to save the program for those who truly need it, we reduced the amount per household paid out in 2014. That did not do us much good, either,” said Vilsack in a brief press conference on Friday morning.
The $76 billion dollars spent on SNAP supplied about 47.6 million Americans assistance, for an average of $133 per month, half of which Vilsack says actually needed it.
“A great portion of those 47 million people who received SNAP benefits have jobs that fly in under the radar, they get paid cash under the table, and obviously do not pay taxes. They are abusing the program,” said Vilsack. “This has painted us into a corner, we knew it was going on, we just didn’t realize the dramatic extent of abuse. We feel absolutely defeated. Now the families who need it and deserve it will go without. That is a tragedy. However the money is gone, the White House will not supply us further assistance. If you want to eat, you’ll have to go to work.”
The announcement has infuriated those who depend on assistance, such as Mary Parker of Washington, D.C., who was nearly brought to tears when asked her opinion. “It’s a damn shame our government can’t step up for us and pay for our food. I got five children that depend on it. I don’t know what I’m gonna do now. I guess I’ll actually have to get a job.”
There are also those who agree with the decision, like Jim Conrad of Jersey City, New Jersey. “It’s about time. People like me work their entire lives, pay taxes, and even when we could have used help, we never asked for help, we learned how to take care of our own, on our own. You got people illegally moving into the country, working under the table, taking over the construction trade, they get paid cash and they get food stamps? It has to stop. It is about damn time we stop letting people, especially foreign and lazy people, abuse the system. Make them fend for themselves!”
President Obama, who worked with the Department of Agriculture in shutting down the program, said that the time has come for Americans to make their own way, and that the current system was obviously too broken to repair.
“It’s unclear how we can help families in need in the future because of those people who abused the current SNAP program,” said President Obama. “Sadly, we can’t do anything further for the actual needy at the moment. We simply asked that people be honest out of American pride, and our people have failed us. It is, to say the least, very disheartening.”
Officials for the Department of Agriculture had no further comment.