While no one is watching because they’re focused on recurring nontroversies in the media, the House of Representatives is currently debating the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 which carries with it changes that will occur through fiscal 2018, and included in the current version of the bill being pushed by House conservatives is an even bigger cut to food stamps than we’ve already seen.
The proposed legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by almost $21 billion over the next decade, eliminating food assistance to nearly 2 million low-income people, mostly working families with children and senior citizens. The proposal reduces total farm bill spending by an estimated $39.7 billion over ten years, so more than half of its cuts come from SNAP. The SNAP cuts are more than $4 billion larger than those included in last year’s House Agriculture Committee bill.
But that’s not all.
The cuts proposed by House Republicans would come on top of an automatic reduction that will occur near the end of this year for another shocking reason.
The bill’s SNAP cuts would come on top of an across-the-board reduction in benefits that every SNAP recipient will experience starting November 1, 2013. On that date, the increase in SNAP benefits established by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) will end, resulting in a loss of approximately $25 in monthly SNAP benefits for a family of four. Placing the SNAP cuts in this farm bill on top of the benefit cuts that will take effect in November is likely to put substantial numbers of poor families at risk of food insecurity.
It’s astonishing that the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (the stimulus) will still be providing food to poor families through the end of 2013.
In some states the cuts proposed by House Republicans would lead to a reduction in benefits totaling as much or more than half of what they currently receive, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, as many as 210,000 children could lose their free school lunches because they’re tied to SNAP benefits.
As for the idea that SNAP benefits are somehow dragging down the economy, the CBO has also projected that the currently-elevated participation rate in the SNAP program will “fall back to 2008 levels in coming years and that SNAP costs as a share of the economy will fall back to their 1995 level by 2019″ because of the improving economy.