When the nationwide Great Recession hit in 2008, a federal food stamps requirement was suspended. It required adults under age 50 who don’t have children to prove they were working, volunteering or taking classes for at least 20 hours a week. Now the requirement is back on, as of Jan. 1, for 23 mostly urban counties across the state, including Wake and Durham.
Naturally, despite the slower economic recovery in rural counties, the Republican-led General Assembly acted to apply those requirements to the rest of the counties on July 1. Food stamp recipients can get benefits for three months without meeting the requirement, but after that they’re out of luck. The problem, as some advocates for the middle class and poor struck down by the recession note, is that in the state’s poorer rural counties, it’s hard for people to find 20 hours of work or volunteer activities. And their difficulties are compounded if they don’t have transportation, which many do not.
This continues the kick-the-poor attitude long prevalent on Jones Street since Republicans took over and limited unemployment benefits, refused to expand Medicaid and donned a clear attitude that the unemployed are sitting back and living in luxury on minimal jobless benefits and food stamps. It is typified by the ridiculous comment of one GOP lawmaker: “Short of telling them, ‘You can sleep all week,’ how much more reasonable can it get?”
North Carolinians are still working hard to climb out of the recession. GOP lawmakers, rather than offer them a hand, seem to just want to shove them back into the ditch.