Your Opinion: Jobless benefits: By the numbers

Dear Editor:

“Samaritan Center fills in for feds again” was a recent headline. First, thank you to the Samaritan Center. The Samaritan Center and other charitable institutions in Missouri are doing what we are supposed to do, Missourians taking care of Missourians.

Why should taking care of Missouri’s unemployed, or hungry, be the responsibility of the federal government, i.e. those in other states? In FY2013 federal government revenues were the highest in history and yet it still borrowed 20 cents of every dollar it spent, further indebting all future generations. If the majority of Missourians think that unemployment benefits should last for 58 weeks or even 99 weeks, they need ask their state legislators to make appropriate changes to Missouri’s State Unemployment Tax levy, so that it has adequate funding to fund the extended benefits.

November unemployment in Missouri was 6.1 percent, significantly lower than the 7.0 percent national rate. Our unemployment rate has averaged 1 percent less than the national average for quite some time. Again I ask, why should those in other states subsidize us?

The article went on to state that Ms. DeFeo, from the Samaritan Center, commented that, “We helped when food stamps were cut, too.”

In pre-recession 2007, according to the BLS, we had 7.1 million unemployed. According to the USDA there were 26.3 million SNAP (food stamp) recipients. The program cost us $30,373 million.

In 2009, when unemployment peaked, 14.3 million were unemployed and 33.5 million people were collecting SNAP benefits, at a cost of $50,358 million.

The number of unemployed has now dropped to 10.5 million while the number of people collecting food stamps has increased to 47.6 million. The cost of the program has exploded to $76,070 million.

The only “cuts” in SNAP have been the expiration of a temporary supplement to the program. Funding for the temporary supplement came from the stimulus package. I was unable to find specific numbers on the value of the expiring supplement but it appears that it is less than $5 billion.

We have 3.4 million more unemployed than we did before the recession yet we have 19.3 million more people getting food stamps. The cost of the program has increased by $46 billion.

Another federal program run amok.