U.S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Philadelphia Thursday to talk about initiatives outlined in President Obama’s State of the Union address.
During a round-table discussion that included Mayor Michael Nutter and Congressman Bob Brady, Vilsack also weighed in on the the Pennsylvania proposal for an assets test to determine eligibility for food stamp recipients.
The test would withhold federal food assistance benefits in the program known as SNAP for seniors or disabled people with more than $3,200 in savings or similar assets. For all other households, the upper limit would be $2,000 in assets.
“They are either senior citizens, living on low fixed incomes, or they are people with disabilities or children,” Vilsack said. “If you add to that percentage those who are working and not making enough to make ends meet, you get up to 90 percent of SNAP recipients.”
Nutter added the means test is insulting.
“This is the United States of America where we encourage people to do the best they can,” Nutter said. “When they are down, we do the best we can to help lift them up. This is wrong.”
The state Department of Public Welfare says the means test request was spurred by concerns about fraud.