Policy
12:28 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Ryan budget looks to cut food stamps, again.

Credit Meanest Indian / Flickr

The busy analysts at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have been looking at Paul Ryan’s latest budget proposal (spoiler alert: it’s a lot like his last budget).

Details are still sketchy on the precise details of how programs would be cut under the plan, but what is clear is that food stamps, once again, has a target on its back.

Many of the families featured in the reports on these pages receive food stamps. Enrollment in the program is at an all-time high and that makes the program really expensive.

The money, along with accusations of the program creating “government dependency” has made the program less popular recently, even though children remain among the biggest beneficiaries of the program.

Ryan’s budget would get most of its savings by converting the program to a block grant program for states. That means that states will have a lot more power in giving out these benefits as long as they stay within federal rules and regulations.

Changing the program to a block grant would account for 125 billion in savings under Ryan’s budget, and those cuts would happen within 5 years, starting in 2019. That’s a lot of money awfully fast.

This is what the folks at CPB think that would mean.

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  • If the cuts came solely from restricting eligibility, 12 to 13 million people would need to be cut from the program.
  • If the cuts came solely from across-the-board benefit cuts, benefits would have to be cut by more than $50 per person per month in 2019 (for a family of three, that’s $1,800 over the whole year).  Put another way, the maximum SNAP benefit would be set at just 73 percent of the Thrifty Food Plan, the Agriculture Department’s estimate of the minimum amount a family needs to afford a bare-bones, nutritionally adequate diet.

There’s always a budget fight these days, and social security and Medicare get a lot of attention around government benefits. But food stamps deserve just as much debate.

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