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Don’t balance budget on backs of the needy

A temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ended on Nov. 1. Currently the House and Senate are working to reconcile differences in SNAP benefits in a conference over the U.S. Farm Bill. The League of Women Voters opposes attempts to balance the budget and reduce the deficit by cutting social programs such as SNAP.

Since 2008, the cost of SNAP has more than doubled. Over 47 million Americans are using the program. The median wage earner in America took home 9 percent less pay last year than in 1999, boosting eligibility for food stamps. In 2009, about 13 percent of Erie County residents, including seniors, children, people with disabilities, jobless and underemployed people, received SNAP benefits, up 70 percent since 2000. SNAP provided a modest $1.50 per meal. Reducing nutrition programs penalizes those most in need of support. Programs for the most needy should not be reduced.

The League of Women Voters urges Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Brian Higgins and Chris Collins to work with other members of Congress to restore a fair and progressive tax system in order to provide needed revenue and ensure social equity. The increased revenue would support programs to meet social needs and reduce the deficit.

During the 2002 recession, federal government spending increased, creating more job opportunities. Since a primary reason for increased SNAP participation is job loss and underemployment, we wonder why Congress has failed to provide adequate job stimulus programs. The league is on record favoring a full employment policy, the concept of assuring a job for all those able and seeking to work. Congress should take action to stimulate employment. Adding jobs increases tax revenues to support government programs and reduce the deficit.

Joan T. Parks

President, League of Women

Voters of Buffalo/Niagara