Unrealistic, 'Sham': GOP Food Stamps Plan in Doubt

April 24, 2018 AT 10:35 AM

House Republicans have proposed a massive expansion of an obscure job training program as a way to get millions of people off of food stamps — notching a welfare reform win as part of the farm bill.

There’s just one problem: There’s little evidence the training program actually works, let alone that it can be scaled up quickly to enroll hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new participants.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has long sought to shrink the safety net, lauded the farm bill advanced last week by the House Agriculture Committee calling it “the precise thing we need to do to get people from welfare to work." Ryan said Thursday he sees the farm bill as part of “the final installment” of the House GOP agenda.

But standing up training capacity for as many as 3 million people so quickly would be roughly equivalent to building almost half the existing U.S. community college system from scratch, said Kermit Kaleba, director of federal policy at the National Skills Coalition.

"You could have a real paradigm shift in how we invest in low-income workers," said Kaleba, a big proponent of expanding training. "But in order to have that conversation, you have to have a realistic sense of scale.”

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