Citing the growing number of obese residents in Maine, Governor Paul LePage announced a plan to ban stores in the state from taking food stamps for things like candy and soda pop. But the Obama administration nixed LePage’s plan causing the governor to threaten to cancel food stamps altogether if he doesn’t get his way.
Earlier this year LePage petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow him to ban the use of food stamps for the purchase of non-staple food items in the Pine Tree State, but Obama AG Secretary Tom Vilsack denied the request.
According to Fox News, the Governor called his plan a “commonsense” reform of the food stamp program in light of the growing obesity problem in Maine in particular and America in general.
But even after his request was shot down by the Obama administration, LePage promised “to implement reform unilaterally or cease Maine’s administration of the food stamp program altogether.”
“It’s time for the federal government to wake up and smell the energy drinks,” LePage said.
The Gov. also accused Obama of hypocrisy as the administration seeks to control the fat and sugar content of every school lunch in the nation but won’t do the same thing for food stamp recipients.
“The Obama administration goes to great lengths to police the menus of K-12 cafeterias but looks the other way as billions of taxpayer dollars finance a steady diet of Mars bars and Mountain Dew,” LePage said in a statement. “I can think of only one reason why the federal government would refuse to eliminate junk food from the EBT menu: special interests.”
The governor also said his plan would help cut down on wasted food stamp funding. “Beyond the health effects of the federal government’s corrupt food stamp policy is the tragedy of billions in wasted taxpayer dollars that buy candy and soda through a program that was originally designed to reduce hunger. Maine taxpayers see it every day at the grocery store and they are sick and tired of watching their hard-earned money go down the drain,” he wrote.
LePage already has a good track record of saving money in his state’s welfare programs with a series of reforms that are working very well.
Earlier this year Forbes magaine noted that LePage’s reforms have led to more employment, higher wages, and less dependency.
The magazine reported that in 2014 Maine instituted a program requiring 16,000 able-bodied, childless adults to get work, job training, or do volunteer work on at least a part-time basis to continue to qualify for food stamps. Those who refused were cut off completely after three months.
By January of 2015 the food stamp rolls had dropped to 4,500 recipients and is continuing to decline as former members of the welfare rolls get jobs.
“Today, just 1,500 able-bodied childless adults rely on Maine’s food stamps program,” the magazine wrote. “Those still relying on the program also need less assistance overall, as they are working more, with average benefits dropping 13% since the work requirements went into effect. As a result of these changes, taxpayers are now saving between $30 million and $40 million each year.”
LePage isn’t the only Maine leader looking to trim the welfare rolls. Last year Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald proposed that the names of those on welfare in his town be published in a public report in essence to shame them for being on welfare.
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