On Thursday, Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) said that cutting $40 billion from the food stamp program would provide “more money” to food-insecure Americans, the Raw Story reports. Earlier this month, House Republicans proposed to reduce Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding by $40 billion over the next ten years, doubling the $20.5 billion Republicans tried to cut two months ago.
Republicans like Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the driving force behind the cuts, and Harris insist that the poor and food-insecure who depend on food stamps and other supplemental nutrition programs will not be negatively affected by their extensive cuts.
Although the poverty rate has risen to more than 13 percent, and Americans’ wages have been stagnant during a time of high corporate profits, Harris argues that the $40 billion cut is only a 5 percent decrease. “We know that there is 10.5 percent of the stores that take food stamps are engaged in trafficking,” Harris told CNN’s Carol Costello last week.
“So we know the fraud stands at 10 percent of the stores. We only want to cut 5 percent,” he continued. “That ought to leave more money getting to the hands of the people who do need it.”
While the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that “The overwhelming majority of SNAP recipients who can work do so,” it seems some Republicans never grow tired of the mantra that food stamps are part of a “culture of permanent dependency,” as Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) recently stated.
Last year, wages fell to a record low of 43.5 percent of the GDP, and earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture reported that the number of US residents who are “food insecure” remains at elevated recession (2008) levels.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 14 million fewer people would be able to participate in SNAP by 2023 if the Republican House bill becomes law. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Critics’ attempts to justify big cuts by claiming that SNAP participants are eschewing work are unfounded. The fact that the majority of SNAP households with an adult who is not elderly or disabled work while they receive SNAP assistance, and that more than 80 percent of such households work in the year before or after SNAP receipt, makes clear the program is an important support for working families that fall on hard times.
As the nation slowly climbs out of the deepest recession in decades, many families continue to face a shortage of jobs or to be paid wages too low to enable them to provide adequate food, and struggle to meet basic nutritional needs. The House SNAP proposal pays little heed to these economic conditions. Instead, it would deny food assistance to millions of low-income Americans and cause substantial increases in hardship.
Last year, 17.6 million US households struggled with having enough food. Yet, many Republicans see nutrition assistance programs as a waste of resources.