Opinions

Kathy Hochul fully commits to funding Biden’s new program for the wealthy using taxpayer money in New York



AOC is pushing for a tax on the wealthy.

Bernie Sanders has mentioned wanting to consume the wealthy.

Currently, President Biden is advocating for taxpayers to provide for the wealthy through a free school-lunch program that includes individuals earning six and seven-figure incomes.

When schools closed in 2020, state agencies sent Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to families whose children were eligible for government-funded meals during the school year.

The federal government later extended this program into the summer months as temporary assistance.

The Pandemic-EBT program, combined with the existing food stamp program available to needy families year-round, provides almost $1,000 per month for a family of four.

Similar to many temporary government initiatives, Pandemic-EBT, now known as Summer EBT, has become permanent.

Each state has the authority to decide whether to implement Summer EBT.

Governor Hochul has agreed to participate, with New York responsible for half of the state’s administrative expenses.

Under Biden’s new plan, eligibility for free school lunch during the summer months would be significantly expanded using the Community Eligibility Provision, rather than individual income qualifications like the food stamp program.

Students attending qualifying schools would not need to apply for free meals at all.

If a certain percentage of students at a school qualify for free lunch due to their families’ low incomes, all students at that school qualify, even those who would typically be ineligible based on their higher family incomes.

With the lowered eligibility threshold set by Biden’s administration, only a quarter of students need to be eligible for free lunch for the entire school to qualify, down from 40%.

The US Department of Agriculture acknowledges that this expansion may not be financially feasible for many schools.

Recently, Hochul allocated $134 million in state funds to encourage schools to adopt the Community Eligibility Provision.

Under the new guidelines, over 70% of public school children – 35 million students – could be eligible for taxpayer-funded summer lunches without any income or application requirements.

These students are already eligible for government-funded lunches during the school year, regardless of their family’s income.

The USDA is ready to apply this expanded standard to Summer EBT.

The true cost of this program remains unknown.

Expanding welfare programs helps to broaden the Democratic voter base in an election year, as Biden’s team understands.

While aiming to attract voters with free food, high-income families will now be part of a permanent free-lunch program initially intended to help families in need during remote learning.

Thirty-seven states and Washington, DC, have chosen to implement Summer EBT, a reiteration of a provision from Biden’s unsuccessful Build Back Better plan.

Some states are pushing to mandate participation in the government-funded meal program, which would provide an additional $40 per child per month to families during the summer months.

The Biden administration and prominent Democrats are pressuring GOP-led states to comply with the expanded federal program, resulting in some states like Nebraska reversing their decisions about joining the initiative.

Truly needy families already qualify for substantial food stamp benefits throughout the year.

Under Biden’s administration, these recipients received a 27% increase in benefits, bypassing Congress and driving up grocery prices.

Several states have their own summer meal programs, and state budgets allocate significant funds to food banks.

In reality, Summer EBT is not solely about combating childhood hunger.

The long-term goal has been to provide universal taxpayer-funded meals to students, regardless of income. The permanent implementation of Summer EBT, along with the loosened CEP requirements, has been on Biden’s agenda since the failure of the Build Back Better plan.

Introducing pre-loaded EBT cards to students before they leave school will cultivate a new generation dependent on government assistance, rather than aiding those in genuine need.

Advocating for policies that promote self-sufficiency and independence has always been more challenging than offering “free” money.

The 13 states that have resisted Biden’s plan to use taxpayer money to feed high-income families deserve credit.

This expansion of welfare programs is a concerning trend.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Paige Terryberry is a senior research fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability.



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