As Opposing Views pointed out last week, many of the programs deemed “nonessential” during the government shutdown included ones meant to help the poorest citizens.
Now that both Democrats and Republicans are moving forward to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the budget, millions of Americans who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are rightfully worried about their access to the benefits they’ve come to depend on.
Back in September, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill “that slashes billions of dollars from the food stamp program,” according to The New York Times. The measure “eliminates loopholes, ensures work requirements, and puts us on a fiscally responsible path,” according to Indiana Republican Representative Marlin Stutzman.
While House Speaker John Boehner claimed the bill made “getting Americans back to work a priority,” James McGovern of Massachusetts call the bill “one of the most heartless I have ever seen.”
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According to NBC News, “[the] program is now serving more than 23 million households, or nearly 48 million people,” and that how much benefits will be reduced varies on the specifics of an individual’s situation. A “family of four with no other changes in circumstances will receive $36 less per month, according the USDA.”
Yet, in the Congressional discussions to come, there is certainly bound to be even more cuts desired. Including the cuts from this law, the SNAP program is poised to cost $700 billion over the next 10 years. Although, even though that figure is less than the 2012 Department of Defense budget (by somewhere between $7.5 billion to around $17 billion), deficit hawks want to see SNAP’s costs cut even more.
The first round of cuts are set to happen in November, ironically right before Thanksgiving and the holiday season.