Lost in the shuffle of last years big fiscal cliff deal was the deal that didn’t get done, a new Farm Bill. One of the major points of contention was funding for food stamps through SNAP, which is run bythe Department of Agriculture. House Republicans proposed steep cuts, $16.5 billion over the next decade. That would eliminate assistance to over 3 million low income Americans. The Senate Democrats countered with a Farm Bill cutting $4.5 billion from SBAP over the same period.
Of course Republicans would not budge, content to hand out tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations. Congress passed an extension to the Farm Bill that lasts until the end of September. Since there is a new Congress, all old versions of the Farm Bill are dead. Meaning that Congress has to start all over.
As a matter of course the Republicans ate only going to increase the amount they want to cut SNAP. Representative Frank Lucas, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, told the Capital Press that the Farm Bill will mandate a $20 billion cut to SNAP benefits over the next decade. Democrat leadership blasted Picasso saying “SNAP provides a significant boost to the economy, nearly doubling the return on every dollar we put into the program.”
It is a hardcore group ofconservatives in the House that are stirring debate over an issue that use to be mainly non contreversial. Paul Ryan is a leader amongst this group. His budget blatantly attacks the poor while cutting taxes for the wealthy. Ryans 2013 budget calls for $135 billion in food stamp cuts over the next 10 years. With $125 billion coming in the first 5 years. That would throw 13 million low income families off the program. House Speaker John Boehner openly acknowledged that hardcore conservatists were a primary reason the House couldn’t pass a Farm Bill.
Washington should be debating an expansion of the SNAP benefits. Research shows that for every dollar spent on food assistance programs there is a $1.84 economic benefit. Food Stamp usage increased as a natural function of the Great Recession. Because of lost jobs, it creates more eligible people for the program. Republican demands to enact steep SNAP cuts, while crudely punitive to millions of low income Americans who depend on Food Stamps, are also unnecessary. Spending on SNAP will decrease significantly over the next decade all by itself as the economy recovers, according to the CBO.
Since President Obama took office, Republicans have been in an all out attack mode on the poor. When offered the oppurtunity to Raise the Minimum Wage, which would have gotten a significant amount of people off SNAP, they refused to even talk about. They pulled out their ultimate weapon, the filibuster. Instead of helping kids get pre-k education, that leads to better education and on turn better jobs, which leads to less on SNAP in the future, they again said NO. Their purposes are just an attack on President Obama because people do not mean anything to these pond scimitar.
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