Congress should reconsider cuts

Published 11:00 pm Friday, November 29, 2013

Congress is currently debating how much to cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), colloquially known as food stamps, benefits.

Both Democrats and Republicans have agreed to make cuts to the program, but the two sides differ on how deep these cuts should be.

In 2008 approximately 28 million people received SNAP benefits. By 2012, the number of people receiving SNAP benefits had grown by 20 million to 48 million people receiving benefits, which represents around 15 percent of the US population.

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To help offset this increase in participation, 2009’s Recovery Act temporarily increased the funding available to the SNAP program by funding the program through stimulus money.

On November 1 of this year, the additional funding granted to the SNAP program was not renewed. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the result of this cut will amount to $5 billion for 2014.

Currently, a family receiving SNAP benefits receives assistance in the form of about $1.40 per person per meal. For a family of four, this amounts to a maximum of $668 per month.

The SNAP program costs taxpayers about $80 billion a year. The House of Representatives has voted to cut SNAP benefits by $40 billion over the next decade. The Senate has voted to cut SNAP benefits by $4 billion over the next decade.

In the same bill, both the House and the Senate voted to increase the amount of money spent on subsidizing crop insurance for farmers. The House voted to increase subsidies on crop insurance by almost nine percent. The Senate voted to increase subsidies by five percent.

While supporting America’s farmers is important, crop subsidies have been shown to be an ineffective tool for keeping crop prices down.

With the holiday season coming up, a time traditionally associated with giving, it seems ironic for the government to cut funding to programs that help Americans put food on their tables.

Hopefully, Congress will come to an agreement that is closer to the Senate version of the funding cuts.