GOP Sabotage: Kicking 1.8 Million Off Food Stamps

Several weeks ago the farm bill was moving swiftly through both chambers of congress and was on the fast-track to passing, but then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor put a hold on the bill so he would have time to assess the political situation, saying he wanted to “push the pause button.”

Following a weeks-long intermission, a new version of the farm bill emerged on Monday that includes a massive cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program — commonly referred to as food stamps — that would push as many as 1.8 million people off the rolls including 280,000 school children.

The legislation would restrict categorical eligibility to only households receiving cash assistance. Based on data from the Department of Agriculture, CBO estimates that about 1.8 million people per year, on average, would lose benefits if they were subject to SNAP’s income and asset tests. In addition, about 280,000 school-age children in those households would no longer be automatically eligible for free school meals through their receipt of SNAP benefits. Assuming enactment on October 1, 2012, CBO estimates that this provision would lower direct spending by $11.5 billion over the 2012-2022 period.

And why exactly do House Republicans want to cut billions from the SNAP program?

To pay for a new crop insurance subsidy.

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is putting their version of the Farm Bill up for a vote this week in the House Agriculture Committee. The bill provides record levels of spending—an eye-popping $9.5 billion over 10 years—for an entirely new agribusiness subsidy under the guise of crop insurance. The bill finally ends the antiquated and highly suspect crop subsidies to help pay for the massive new crop insurance program, yet the bill slashes $16 billion from one of the most effective antipoverty programs in our nation, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to fund the new insurance spending.

If it means fewer people will go hungry, or that the price of groceries will stabilize because farmers are insured against the financials hardships that climate change will bring, great, but cutting food stamps to pay for it will accomplish nothing. Congress could alternatively tax sugary drinks to pay for such a subsidy, but you know, that would just be socialism. As if a new agribusiness subsidy isn’t.

More from Charles Pierce

Yes, what’s happening with the Farm Bill in the House of Representative is a moral disaster A $9 billion new subsidy that is paid for by cutting two million families off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program? In the middle of an ongoing recession and with eight percent unemployment? Anybody who votes for this and insists on still calling themselves a Christian should be stoned. But, morality aside, which is pretty much the way we’re running the economy as a whole these days, this doesn’t even make a lick of pragmatic sense. Keep people fed and you keep people employed. The money from the SNAP program doesn’t go into a vault in the Caymans; practically all of it goes right back into the economy, where it helps keep people employed in grocery stores and sundry shops. (There is a similar argument to be made about how counterproductive it is to be slashing unemployment benefits, and state payrolls, in a recession, as though the money from a government salary doesn’t count somehow.) And it’s not just America that seems enthralled, and then crippled, by this nonsense.

As I said, the blog is not an economist, but it will hazard a guess that this notion that you can run an economy without demand took hold when we handed the entire financial world over to people who don’t actually sell anything except debt, and risk, and other people’s money, and their own arrogant genius, and a lot of other intangible things like that. I hear an awful lot from The Business Community about how politicians don’t understand or appreciate their true unleavened genius. Is there any economist propounding this balderdash who’s ever actually had a job selling anything more substantial than his own bullshit? You can’t run a business if nobody can afford to be your customers.

Few people could say it better.

Indeed, SNAP does keep people fed, but it’s also an economic stimulus program in disguise that puts money directly into the economy. According to the Congressional Budget Office and Moody’s Analytics, food stamps contributes $1.72 to the economy for every $1 dollar spent by the government.

Economists consider SNAP one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus. Moody’s Analytics estimates that in a weak economy, every dollar increase in SNAP benefits generates $1.72 in economic activity. Similarly, CBO rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.

According to the National Academy of Science poverty measures, which count SNAP as income, SNAP kept about 4 million people out of poverty in 2010 and lessened the severity of poverty for millions of others.

The evidence is overwhelming, but after hitting “the pause button,” the House GOP decided it would be best to have another go at hostage taking and economic sabotage rather than cooperate on something that benefits their own constituents just as much as anyone else.

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  • mrbrink

    Great post and references, Ashby. Charlie Pierce dropped the mic right there.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Eric Cantor needs his fugly face savagely spanked until all his teeth are knocked out and he’s left dazed and confused and his face bloodied and purple and deeply hand imprinted.

  • trgahan

    once again…If you’re net worth is under 1 million, they are not on your side!

  • joseph2004

    While it’s certainly fine that government spends money to help people in need, it is still bunk to assume that somehow taking $1 from the private sector and sending it in check form to someone in need is going to turn it into $1.72. Giving someone a dollar and telling them to spend it on clothes and food (don’t forget sales taxes) splits that dollar up into different directions, but doesn’t make more of it.
    Something else has to happen to generate that “extra” $0.72.
    I’m no economist, but given that fully a third of federal spending is backed by borrowing, that’s one good-sized ball and chain to start. The only real way the government can create that $0.72, in what’s otherwise a vacuum, is to print the $1.00 first (add it to the money supply) and then send it to the food-stamp recipient. Maybe that’s what the CBO is saying. You add a dollar to the money supply that wasn’t there to begin with, people spend in on commodities, you’ve diluted the money supply which chips away at the value of that dollar, and what do you have left? $0.72. There. We just stimulated the economy.
    We certainly did not accomplish it by giving a dollar to someone, a dollar that magically turned into $1.72 at the check-out counter.

    If someone can explain how the magic happens in some other way, please do.

    Obviously, there’s something wrong with the simple assumption that we’re creating $1.72 from every $1 of stimulus. If it were so simple, we’d have licked this recession long ago.
    At some point the private sector has to be the little engine that could. More and more people on food stamps may be necessary in the short run, but it is not a long-term solution to resurrecting the economy. That’s obvious.

    Adding: So it looks like food stamps are exempt from local sales taxes. OK, same question applies: Where does the extra $0.72 really come from?

    • mrbrink

      Ha.

      “Taking $1 from the private sector…”

      That’s rich.

      The corporate sector is swimming in profits and tax payer subsidies, free and discounted land grants, consolidated political power, and general reach around coddling. The top 2% have captured 95% of the growth in national wealth in this country. They’ve ignited depression era economic factors from the top down, sometimes for spite and sabotage, disbanded labor unions and attacked teachers(women), culminating with the biggest handover of wealth in American history that continues with the blessing of your fake ass concern for economic standards and the ethical treatment of mammals.

      “At some point the private sector has to be the little engine that could.”

      Yeah, maybe when we hand the White House, Congress, Senate, and Supreme Court back to right wing terrorists full-time, asshole. The champions of moral fail.

      The corporate sector is doing fine.

      Demand is an engine, dumbass.

      • joseph2004

        OK fine. I’m “Asshole.” Howabout we just call you “Asshole#2.”

        Feel better?

        Now tell me, where does that extra $0.72 really come from?

        • mrbrink

          “where does that extra $0.72 really come from?”

          Probably from layoffs, outsourcing, corporate tax avoidance, CEO bonuses, union busting, stagnant wages, cuts to pensions, lost health care benefits, cuts to education, cuts to unemployment benefits, and of course no more abortions for gay Muslims!

          Food stamps feed actual people, and their spending has a ripple effect in the real economy. You get more from food stamps than you do from other stimulus options. Like tax cuts for corporations, or wealthy individuals, for instance, which generates about 30 cents of nothing economy.

          • joseph2004

            Fine fine. I know your position on corporations. And I have no problem with food stamps.

            But you’ve avoided the question.

            You don’t get money from nothing unless the federal government creates it from nothing. It has that power, and it uses it. This isn’t money that comes from spending cuts. Spending cuts are meaningless when the government intends to spend more than tax revenue coming in.

            The fed “borrows” it after the treasury creates it out of the ether. Like a new car driven off the lot, that dollar depreciates immediately. That and a number of other inefficiencies knocks the bang out of that buck even further.

            The long-term cumulative effect is reduced purchasing power impacting the poor and middle classes hardest.

          • mrbrink

            The full faith and credit of the United States is not “nothing.” Our treasuries are not “nothing.” Our currency is not “nothing.”

            Saying the Fed just prints money out of nothing is Fedspeak for dummies.

            We wouldn’t even be having this conversation had supply side lived up to its blessed mythos.

            The moral and economic value of providing food for the disadvantaged used to outweigh the value of spending that same portion of the budget for defense and corporate tax cuts.

            The economic value and direct stimulus of SNAP benefits, not general Obama stimulus as you implied, but specifically SNAP benefits are the quickest bridge through capitalism’s predator jungle while you make up your mind about what the hell you’re talking about.

        • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole

          No, you’re Asshole 1 & 2. You’re just a bloody sociopathic prick who sides with the same people who would sell their mothers if they could make a damn dime.

          blech.

    • JMAshby

      So I guess you would make the same argument against Medicaid then.

      We’re just taking money away from the private sector and giving it to someone else?

      Yeah, we’re giving it right back to the economy, as healthcare is a significant amount of GDP. Half of the healthcare industry (the private sector) wouldn’t have jobs without those juicy federal dollars flowing from Medicaid and Medicare.

      Your beloved private sector is kneck-deep in socialism and corporate welfare every single day.

      $1 dollar in spending turns into $1.75 in activity because of increased demand. 16 cents on the dollar is passed down to farmers and producers who make the things people on food stamps buy. So on and so on.

    • agrazingmoose

      Dude, you don’t know anything about economics as you said. If demand goes up at the grocery store, there is an effect throughout the supply chain. That food must come from somewhere and that employs additional people and they spend money etc.

    • ninjaf

      You can do some reading on your own, if you want:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_multiplier

      This has been covered by all sorts of economists and publications. And claiming ignorance is not an option when all you have to do is put a search term into a little box and you can find all sorts of unbiased answers to your question.

      You are not asking to be enlightened — you are trolling.

  • Brutlyhonest

    I’m surprised you guys are engaging the stalker/troll today :p

    FWIW, he answered hisownself (yes, I can speak bumpkin):

    Obviously, there’s something wrong with the simple assumption that we’re creating $1.72 from every $1 of stimulus.

    Well no shit. And that’s exactly why Moody Analytics (and other similarly liberal organizations) “… estimates that in a weak economy, every dollar increase in SNAP benefits generates $1.72 in economic activity.” See? Generates economic activity is not the same as uses fucking magic to create money out of thin air.

    His argument is, as usual, a big bag of hot nothing.

  • bphoon

    Anybody who votes for this and insists on still calling themselves a Christian should be stoned.

    I think they must already be.