This week, PS talks with Teresa Ghilarducci, Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research.
Project Syndicate: Before last year’s midterm elections in the United States, you warned that if Americans elect Republicans “out of anger over inflation, they will not get lower inflation. Instead, they will see benefits, programs, and rights valued by the majority of Americans systematically gutted.” Which benefits, programs, and rights are on the GOP’s chopping block, and what can President Joe Biden’s administration do now to safeguard them?
Teresa Ghilarducci: Well, you got it. During the debt-ceiling negotiations in June, Republicans maneuvered to implement stricter work requirements for people aged 50-55 eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which augments the grocery budgets of low-income Americans. They argue that stricter requirements are needed to ensure that the program does not discourage employable people from working. But research shows that most SNAP recipients are already working or providing unpaid care to family members, and that work requirements do not increase labor-force participation. Instead, they discourage people from applying for benefits.
In other words, the change to SNAP requirements is not about getting more people into the workforce at all. Rather, it is a display of hostility toward Americans in need. To protect as many people as possible, the Biden administration must get everyone who is eligible for SNAP signed up by streamlining and automating the process.