Politics

Minimum Wage Increase Could Cut Annual Food Stamp Spending By $4.6 Billion

| by Will Hagle

A major topic in recent political debate has been the U.S.’s federal food stamp program, which many Republicans claim is detrimental to the economy and many Democrats claim is necessary for the thousands of individuals that depend on the assistance each month. 

According to the Center for American Progress, there may be another solution to the food funding issue. The think tank recently analyzed the effect raising the minimum wage would have on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), finding that the federal government could potentially save $4.6 billion per year. That figure would be reached by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The study argues that spending less on benefits and requiring businesses (in addition to the government) to spend more on individuals could actually have a positive impact on the economy, rather than the relatively draining one some welfare programs can have. Those welfare programs, of course, are necessary, but it’s time that the government take an innovative approach to solving the economic problems as well as the social ones. The minimum wage increase offers an opportunity to exactly that. 

Although $4.6 billion in one year seems like a large sum, the figure actually represents only 6% of the overall SNAP budget. For comparison, however, the updated farm bill that recently made its way through Congress included a 10 year plan to reduce food stamp spending by $8 billion overall.

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Support for raising the minimum wage has been gaining momentum in recent years, with low wage restaurant workers protesting in order to gain a $15 wage. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy recently wrote a CNN article claiming that they’re taking actions “to raise the minimum wage in [their] states to $10.10 an hour by 2017.” 

Whether or not the slight wage increase will have a profound effect on food stamp benefits remains to be seen, but it certainly will benefit many individuals.