Apparently, those living in poverty did not get the memo about the ever so slowly improving economy. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be worried about the deepening cuts to the food stamp program.
Reductions in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, began this month. The allotment was raised in 2009 as part of the federal economic stimulus package. The assumption was that the economy would be well on its way to recovery by now, but that hasn’t happened.
By taking away this benefit, the government is expected to save about $5 billion next year. The price of that savings will be felt in the stomachs of those who will have less to eat.
The cost of food stamps is undeniably enormous. More than 45 million people were enrolled last year at a cost of more than $78 billion. The latest round of cuts doesn’t sound like much – maybe $9 a week for a family of four – but it will be a crippling amount for some. The cuts will inevitably force more people to rely on food banks and soup kitchens, putting new strains on those agencies.
The size of the food stamp program is one of the sticking points the House and Senate have had in reaching an agreement on a new farm bill. The House proposed a $40 billion cut over 10 years to the nutrition program. The Senate bill would cut $4.5 billion.
So Americans struggling to feed their families may have to grapple with the current reduction that is supposed to reflect “better times” and then possibly devastating cuts later if people like House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., get their way. He said a couple of months ago that billions of dollars in cuts “will put people on the path to self-sufficiency and independence.”
The best way to reduce spending on food stamps is to work to revive the economy and put people back to work rather than chopping away at the safety net.
House Republicans, in particular, could try to show a little compassion by putting themselves into the shoes of those with less. But given their willingness to allow a government shutdown that threw millions out of work, that seems unlikely.