Where's the Beef?
On December 10, The Tennessean more evenly covers the issue in its report TN House Republicans back $40 billion in food stamp cuts.
The future of food stamps — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — remains the largest sticking point in House-Senate negotiations to finalize a new farm bill before the end of the year.
In September, the House approved a farm bill that cuts almost $40 billion from food stamps over 10 years — about 5 percent a year. The Senate earlier approved a bill that would cut $4 billion over that time.
At $80 billion a year, food stamps remain the single costliest item in the farm bill. The program serves almost 48 million Americans and 1.34 million Tennesseans — about 20 percent of the state population.
Among House members from Tennessee, all but Reps. Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis — the two Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation — voted for the bill making $40 billion in cuts.
Groups such as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning Washington think tank, say cuts of that magnitude would result in denying benefits to 3.8 million low-income Americans in 2014.
“Those who would be thrown off the program include some of the nation’s most destitute adults, as well as many low-income children, seniors and families that work for low wages,” the CBPP said in an analysis of the House bill. “The House SNAP bill is harsh.”
Rep. John Duncan, R-Knoxville, complained that administrators of the program “have no incentive to keep people off.”
“They will get bigger offices, staffs and funding if even more people get food stamps,” he said.
Close Inspection of "Draconian" Cuts
Please note that the alleged $40 billion in cuts is really only $4 billion in a close to $80 billion program. They arrive at $40 billion by multiplying $4 billion by 10 years.
OK Fine. The cuts then are $40 billion in an $800 billion program. And I actually doubt we will ever see those "cuts" in the first place.
A few charts from reader Tim Wallace will help explain.
SNAP Growth in Benefits
click on any chart for sharper image
SNAP Benefit Facts
Supposedly a 5% cut is draconian.
As is typical with government programs, there is no incentive by the administrators to eliminate waste or fraud.
The more funding for food stamps, the bigger the salaries and staffs of the administrators.
I suggest that we need a way to provide necessary safety-net benefits while simultaneously providing an incentive to get off the program and get a job.
I repeat my proposal.
Mish SNAP Proposal
My proposal will not only lower the cost of the food stamp program, the resultant healthier diets would lower Medicaid and Medicare costs as well.
Moreover, my proposal would give people a strong incentive to get off the food stamp program without intrusive, costly big-brother ideas like drug testing which cannot possibly work for the simple reason that anyone who fails will steal to get food rather than starve.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock