Food stamps under fire in $4.1tr budget dismissed as non-starter on both sides of the aisle

Food stamps under fire in $4.1tr budget

Budget proposals unveiled by the Trump administration this week include a $193bn cut to food stamps (SNAP: the supplemental nutrition assistance program) over the next 10 years – slashing SNAP’s budget by almost a quarter - and limits on farm subsidies.

The proposals were unveiled days after agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue told the House Agriculture Committee that there were “no proposed changes” to SNAP, adding: “You don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.”

The budget (dubbed a A New Foundation for American Greatness) also proposes cuts to Meals on Wheels, which provides food to the homebound elderly, disabled and veterans; and substantial tax cuts, which supporters claim will not add to the deficit because they say economic growth will rise to 3% (well beyond the independent Congressional Budget Office assumptions of 1.9% growth).

There are also upper limits on farm subsidies, and limits on eligibility for commodity support programs such as Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage.

Rosy assumptions?

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said the budget relied on "rosy assumptions" and "does not add up,” while Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told the New York Times: "Meals on Wheels, even for some of us who are considered to be fiscal hawks, may be a bridge too far.

In an off camera briefing last night, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters that SNAP payments had spiked during the recession, but had “not come down like we would expect them to do.”

He added: “So I think that raises a very valid question, which is that:  Are there folks on SNAP who shouldn’t be?”

States should match a percentage of the federal outlay on SNAP, meanwhile, he said: “So what we do is go to the states and say, look, we want you to have a little bit of skin in the game and help us , because you know how to make the programs better, to improve the programs and save money.”

Read the proposed budget in full HERE.

"The Budget proposes a series of reforms to SNAP that close eligibility loopholes, target benefits to the neediest households, and require able-bodied adults to work. Combined, these reforms will reduce SNAP expenditures while maintaining the basic assistance low-income families need to weather hard times.

"The Budget also proposes SNAP reforms that will re-balance the State-Federal partnership in providing benefits by establishing a State match for benefit costs. The Budget assumes a gradual phase-in of the match, beginning with a national average of 10% in 2020 and increasing to an average of 25% by 2023.

"To help States manage their costs, in addition to the currently available operational choices States make that can impact participation rates and benefit calculations, new flexibilities to allow States to establish locally appropriate benefit levels will be considered."

Source: A New Foundation for American Greatness

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