'No Precedent' For Proposed Cuts To Food Stamp BenefitsSubmitted by bobbyw24 on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 11:29
To help prevent a pair of domestic spending bills from adding to the national budget deficit, Democratic leaders in the Senate have proposed cuts to future food stamp funding, saving $14.1 billion over 10 years.
Several Democrats have said they'll prevent the cuts -- which will phase out a stimulus bill provision that increased families' monthly food stamp payments -- from ever taking effect. So are the planned cuts nothing more than an accounting gimmick to win "yes" votes from deficit hawks, or are they a serious threat to families who rely on the money to feed their children?
"I do believe [the Democrats] are sincere in not wanting these cuts to go into effect, but I'm concerned that, when the time comes, they won't be able to find a way to put the money back," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy. "There's no precedent for this."
In April 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act boosted monthly benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by 13.6 percent. As economic misery has worsened, participation in SNAP has risen since then from 34.4 million to 40.8 million as of May 2010. That's one of every seven Americans.
With the stimulus bill provisions, the average benefit is $133.77 per month. If the cuts take effect, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) estimates that a family of four will receive $59 less per month starting in November 2013. It's not the first time an unkind change has been made to food stamp policy, but experts say it would be the first time ever that beneficiaries would receive less money from month to month under the program.
"The raid on SNAP must stop," said FRAC in a statement. "These are real cuts with real impact on low-income households who, for the first time, will see their benefits fall from one month to the next."
Cutting the elevated SNAP funding to pay for a state aid bill "is one of the more egregious cases of robbing Peter to pay Paul," wrote Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Jim McGovern (D-Ma.) in a letter signed by 106 other Democrats protesting the cuts to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
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