House Republican Budget Could Cut Off Food Assistance For Millions Of Low-Income Americans

The House Republican’s 2013 budget authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would cut the social safety net to ribbons while handing trillions of dollars in tax breaks to the rich and corporations. And one of the bigger casualties — in addition to high-profile Ryan targets like Medicaid and Medicare — would be the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps.

Ryan’s budget would turn food stamps into a block grant program, sending it back to the states to do with as they see fit. The plan also cuts SNAP by 17 percent, or more than $133 billion. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, this proposal could cut millions of low-income people off from vital food assistance:

If the cuts were to come solely from eliminating eligibility for categories of currently eligible households or individuals, more than 8 million people would need to be cut from the program, if the cuts began taking effect in 2013. If the cuts did not begin until 2016, an average of almost 10 million people would have to be cut from the program in the years from 2016 through 2022 to achieve the required savings. […]

Cuts in benefits: If the cuts were to come solely from across-the-board benefit cuts, SNAP benefits would have to be cut by about $22 to $27 per person per month in 2016 dollars….The impact of such a change would be pronounced. All families of four — including the poorest — would see their benefits cut by about $90 a month in fiscal year 2016, or more than $1,100 on an annual basis. All families of three would be subject to cuts of more than $70 per month, or almost $900 on an annual basis.

Republicans, including Ryan himself, have been attacking the food stamp program by falsely claiming that it is “rife with fraud.” But in addition to having an incredibly low rate of payment error (at 1 percent), SNAP is a vital poverty fighting tool. Last year, food stamps reduced the number of children living in extreme poverty by half. Overall, more than 5 million people were lifted out of poverty by food stamps in 2010.