Poverty is never a life status to aspire to, but it seems to be getting harder and harder to avoid, and increasingly punishing if you’re there. With austerity so in vogue these days, it’s getting even worse. Last month, the Senate passed a Farm Bill that slashes food assistance through the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by $ 4.5 billion over the next decade.
“Oh, yeah?” said the House Agriculture Committee. “We’ll just up that by about about $ 12 billion more.” In that post, Laura Clawson explained who exactly this would hit. If you’re a family of three, and have total income of more than $ 24,100 annually, you’d be out of luck. And food.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities expands on that.
The proposed cuts would cause significant hardship to several million low-income households.
- The bill would terminate SNAP eligibility to several million people. By eliminating categorical eligibility, which over 40 states have adopted, the bill would cut 2 to 3 million low-income people off food assistance.
- Several hundred thousand low-income children would lose access to free school meals. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 280,000 children in low-income families whose eligibility for free school meals is tied to their receipt of SNAP would lose free meals when their families lost SNAP benefits.
- Some working families would lose access to SNAP because they own a modest car, which they often need to commute to their jobs. Eliminating categorical eligibility would cause some low-income working households to lose benefits simply because of the value of a modest car they own. These families would be forced to choose between owning a reliable car and receiving food assistance to help feed their families.
The CPBB also points out that the argument that making sure people in the U.S. simply have enough to eat on a regular basis is breaking the country is bullshit. Except they don’t say bullshit.
Contrary to proponents’ claim that the bill’s SNAP cuts are needed to rein in program growth, CBO has found that SNAP’s expansion in recent years primarily reflected the severe recession and that SNAP spending will fall significantly as the economy recovers. CBO projects that the share of the population that participates in SNAP will fall back to 2008 levels in coming years and that SNAP costs as a share of the economy will fall back to their 1995 level by 2019.
So this amounts to just punishing people for the sake of punishing people. Punishing children. The $ 4.5 billion cut by the Senate Democrats was too much. The $ 16 billion proposed by the House is insane, as will be any “middle ground” they might come to in conference when they reconcile the two bills. Any cuts to this critical program, while unemployment is still above eight percent and wages remain totally stagnant, are criminal.