The Republican Party wants to cut $40 billion from the SNAP program, which millions of poor people depend on to buy groceries. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
Republicans in the House of Representatives are planning a vote to cut $40 billion in food stamp aid, for reasons that make little to no sense. Currently, around 47 million Americans, more than one in seven people, receive food stamps via the SNAP program. Under the Republican Party plan, about 4 million of them would lose their food aid.
Why does the Republican Party want to cut food aid to the poor? The claim is that the SNAP program is overrun with fraud and abuse. The problem with this claim is it’s about thirty years too late. In 1993, fraud in the food assistance program was an alarming 4% of every dollar spent. The latest survey, in 2006-2008, showed that it had dropped to 1%. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if the richest nation in the world allowed for some wasted funds in its attempt to feed its hungry, but that doesn’t even seem like a real issue here.
But what good are food stamps anyway? Glad you asked. A census bureau report released last week said that the SNAP program, if counted as income, kept 4 million Americans out of poverty last year. The program also kept poor people from sinking deeper into poverty.
The deficit? Lowest it’s been in years. Not that the SNAP program is a great place to look for savings.
Finally, food stamps provide a great form of economic stimulus: they go to the neediest people, and provide funds that get immediately recirculated into the economy.
So what’s the deal? Well, the Republican Party can’t shake its reverse Robin Hood syndrome: their MO is essentially to take from the poor, and let the funds float up to the rich, where it does not trickle down.
The Democrats short term response will be to stop legislation that cuts food stamps. The long term response should be to get as many poor people as possible to vote.