Two subjects have been discussed at length recently in The Advocate that I think share a common thread and should be addressed. First, the waiver granted to certain individuals so they may continue receiving food stamps, or SNAP. The individuals affected are able-bodied adults age 18 to 49 without dependents.

To summarize, these individuals would have been required to work 20 hours a week, be in an approved job training program or participate in approved volunteer work or in a nonpaid job (The Advocate, Oct. 1, 2015).

The waiver Gov. John Bel Edwards granted allows these individuals to continue receiving benefits without fulfilling any of these requirements. I fully accept that some of these individuals are having a hard time finding gainful employment, but I refuse to accept that the majority of them could not have met the volunteer requirement. Besides, they could have made some significant contacts through their volunteer efforts that might have led to a full-time job.

Also, in the same Oct. 1 article, Louisiana Budget Project Director Jan Moller summarized that this is a federally funded program, so cutting these individuals’ benefits will save the state nothing.

Last time I checked, which was when I paid my federal taxes last year, it is still taxpayers who foot the bill for these programs — regardless if it is federal or state taxation. Second, regarding the expansion of Medicaid in our state.

I take exception with the cavalier attitude many seem to have regarding the funding of this expansion. Many have been quick to point out that the federal government will pay the largest share of this program and as such the state’s share is nominal. While this is true, the fact remains whether the federal or state government is funding the program, it is ALL tax dollars from taxpayers.

When you consider our national debt is running around $18 to $19 trillion and our future federal unfunded liabilities are in excess of $100 trillion, it really means we are not “paying” for these programs at all but rather just piling on more debt for the future.

So for all those who say the feds are picking up the tab, no, they are not. They are just digging the debt hole deeper and deeper. As far as the state budget goes, you’d have to be living under a rock the last few years to not realize the dire straits we’re in even before we try to expand the Medicaid program.

Whether you support or oppose the programs discussed above, the thread between them is the lack of money we have to “pay” for either. But have no doubt, we’ll all be paying for it one day.

David Ruckman


Baton Rouge