The CBO estimated earlier this year that one in seven Americans receive federal food assistance. The agency said that taxpayers spent $78 billion on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2011, making it the second largest social safety net program after Medicare. The government claims that every month, federal food aid keeps more than 5 million Americans from slipping into poverty.
“According to estimates by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, this deep cut in monthly benefits would affect 190,000 low-income New York City families and children who rely on these benefits for their nutrition, and would affect nearly 300,00 households statewide,” she said in an advisory. Gillibrand’s amendment would restore most of the funding by slashing subsidies that big agriculture companies use to buy crop insurance.
Sessions’ plan would close “loopholes” in the program by tightening income requirements for families applying for aid and requiring more information about their monthly income and bills. It would also implement a verification system to ensure that undocumented immigrants are not receiving aid and eliminate bonuses for USDA employees.
“If food stamps spending were returned next year to 2007 funding levels, and increased from there at the rate of inflation, it would produce an astonishing $340 billion in savings over the next 10 years,” he said in prepared text. The number of Americans relying on food stamps grew from 27.3 million in 2007 to 44 million in 2010, largely due to the economic downturn, according to the USDA.
The Senate’s agreed-upon farm bill would still provide nearly $80 billion to food stamps every year for the next five years. The bill’s co-sponsor, Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), claimed in prepared text that it will reduce the deficit by $23 billion by “eliminating unnecessary direct payment subsidies, consolidating programs to end duplication, and cracking down on food assistance abuse.”
Correction: A prior version of this story said Sessions’ proposals would cut $4 billion from food stamps. That amount is actually attributable to a different amendment introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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