On Wednesday of this week House Republicans will vote on the misleadingly-named Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, which gives you the opportunity to be kicked off food stamps if you can’t find a job in three months.
The proposal incorporates all of the SNAP cuts and other nutrition provisions of the farm bill that House leaders sought unsuccessfully to pass in June, which would cut $20.5 billion from SNAP over ten years. It also adds new provisions designed to cut at least another $20 billion in benefits, primarily by eliminating states’ ability to secure waivers for high-unemployment areas from SNAP’s austere rule that limits benefits for jobless adults without children to just three months out of every three years.
The new House proposal is harsh. It would deny SNAP to at least 4 million to 6 million low-income people — including some of the nation’s most destitute adults — as well as to many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages
Here’s more. And this part really ticks me off.
The House leadership proposal would allow states to cut off SNAP benefits to most adults who are receiving or applying for SNAP, including parents with children as young as 1 year old, if they are not working or participating in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week. This provision, based on an amendment to the original House farm bill offered by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), authorizes states to cut off an entire family’s food assistance benefits, including their children’s — and for an unlimited time — if the parents do not find a job or job training slot.
The provision gives states a strong financial incentive to take up this option. First, they could keep half of the federal savings from cutting people off SNAP and use the funds for any purpose, including tax cuts and special-interest subsidies or plugging holes in state budgets. Second, states that decline the option and maintain their current approach to SNAP work requirements and job training would face a significant fiscal penalty. States that do not elect the option would lose all federal matching funds for their SNAP employment and job training programs (which all states now operate).
The bill does not simply eliminate provisions that grant states the ability to cope with persistent high unemployment, it actively encourages them not to. It gives states financial incentives to NOT feed people, including adults with infant children.
I really don’t know how to describe this other than to say it’s a giant Fuck You to poor people. Because the money that’s currently being used to feed some of them would alternatively be used to fund tax breaks for the rich under the House Republican bill.
In a sense, this bill doesn’t actually end any amount of welfare, it simply shifts the money from one form of welfare to another, where money allocated for the SNAP program will be redirected to fund corporate welfare instead.
With any luck the bill won’t pass the House just as it failed to pass in June. This bill is an abomination that is so horrible I can’t see how it could possibly be reconciled in a conference committee.
House leadership should be personally forced to ring bells outside grocery stores this Winter.