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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Nearly 48 million families will see a cut in their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits this Friday, resulting in a reduction of 16 meals a month for a family of three. These cuts to food stamps, as SNAP is more commonly known, are the result of expiring stimulus programs and are likely to be compounded by further cuts in the upcoming federal budget agreement and restrictions being implemented by the states.

“Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2014 will average less than $1.40 per person per meal,” the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities’ Dottie Rosenbaum and Brynne Keith-Jennings point out.

The cuts will reduce the budget by $5 billion in 2014, which is less than the estimated $7 billion that taxpayers spend subsidizing the fast-food industry’s low wages.

This cut will affect all SNAP beneficiaries, 87 percent of whom live in households with children, seniors, or people with disabilities, including an estimated 900,000 veterans. More than 80 percent of these Americans are living in poverty.

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“The depth and breadth of the SNAP cuts that take effect in November are unprecedented,” Rosenbaum and Keith-Jennings note. “Past cuts have affected specific states or groups, but they have not affected all participants nor been as large as these cuts.”

Republican arguments against those on food stamps being “takers” dining on lobster at taxpayer expense often miss two crucial facts:  1. The maximum benefit is barely enough to survive and is getting smaller — dropping from $200 per month to $189 on November 1; 2. A recent study showed that the fastest growth of new SNAP beneficiaries is in areas that vote Republican.

The House GOP broke precedent in September and separated food stamps from the rest of the farm bill in order to pass $40 billion in additional cuts to benefits over the next 10 years. Notably, 13 of the 217 congressmembers  who voted for those cuts receive federal farm subsidies from the farm bill that the GOP hasn’t targeted for cuts — nearly all of these 13 Republicans are millionaires.

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