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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food assistance to almost 23 million households and 46 million people – a two-fold increase since 2006. The dramatic increase in participants and expenditures have led to proposals for cuts, and work requirements to control costs. However, work requirements for work-able adults without dependent children have been part of SNAP since welfare reform in the late 1990s.
The employment data released today by the BLS shows that the unemployment rate remained at 5.5% in March 2015, with the economy gaining 126,000 jobs. Unemployment is at the lowest level since 2008, but it is still not back to a pre-recession level of 4.6%. And labor force participation remains a concern. At 62.7% in March 2015, it is still far below the March 2006 rate of 66.2%.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is often heralded as the most effective anti-poverty program in the US It provides a refundable tax credit to working people that can be as much as $5,500 for an income-eligible family with 2 children and $500 for a childless individual. And yet, each year the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and other government oversight agencies highlight the significant problem of improper payments related to the EITC. Failing to address the improper payment rate undermines the integrity of the program and may threaten future expansions.
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