Senate Democrats gave Senate Republicans a farm bill that included $ 4.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (AKA food stamps) over 10 years. House Republicans are all “is that the worst you can do? Make a mere 500,000 families go hungry? How about $ 16 billion in cuts over 10 years?”
In addition to closing a loophole that lets states get added food assistance for people by giving them nominal amounts of heating assistance, the bill that came out of the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday restricts:
[...] a system wherein states can provide food benefits to those whose assets exceed legal limits for food stamps as long as they receive some other welfare benefit. It also ends Agriculture Department bonus payments to states that increase food stamp registrations.
The damage? At nearly four times the cuts in the Senate bill, that would be nearly 2 million families struggling to put enough food on the table who would see benefits cut. These massive cuts are going to be accompanied by a lot of rhetoric about lottery winners getting food stamps (like one person, illegally), but here’s who we’re really talking about being forced to cut their food budgets to the bone:
[Household] total monthly income generally must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line, or $ 2,008 (about $ 24,100 a year) for a three-person family in fiscal year 2012. Households with an elderly or disabled member need not meet this limit.
- Its monthly net income, or income after deductions are applied for items such as high housing costs and child care, must be less than or equal to the poverty line (about $ 18,500 a year or $ 1,545 a month for a three-person family in fiscal year 2012).
- Its assets must fall below certain limits: households without an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $ 2,000 or less, and those with an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $ 3,250 or less.
As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said during her fight to keep the Senate from cutting SNAP benefits, “In Matthew 25, the first question Christ asks on Judgement Day is, ‘Did you feed the poor?’ It’s unacceptable that we have Republican advocates who are saying it’s immoral to support food stamps.”