The House has just voted to cut roughly $4 billion a year from food stamp funding, a program 1 in 7 Americans are now using. The 217-210 vote will call for a 5% spending reduction, and was a victory for conservatives, as Democrats saw the cut as being too high.
The cuts will be implemented through drug tests for applicants, as well as broader work requirements. The new bill would also do away with waivers given to able-bodied adults who have no dependents, who receive benefits indefinitely. More specifically, here's a list of proposed food stamp alterations:
- Reinstating the asset and income test in the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) law by limiting categorical program eligibility to only those households receiving cash assistance from other low-income programs;
- Closing a loophole related to Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments that increases SNAP benefits;
- Eliminating state performance bonuses;
- Preventing USDA and states from advertising or promoting SNAP;
- Cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse by ending SNAP benefits for lottery winners and traditional college students, demanding outcomes from the SNAP Employment and Training program, and increasing oversight of SNAP programs for the homeless, elderly, and disabled; and
- Improving the quality of SNAP-approved retail stores.
Still, the new Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) bill likely won't go through in a Democratic-led senate, and President Obama has said he'd veto it regardless.
"These cuts would affect a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work," a White House spokesperson said in a statement.
SNAP benefits cost roughly $78 billion in 2012, a price which has more than doubled since 2008. In 2007, 11.1% of American households were "food insecure." As the recession hit in 2008, this number rose to 14.6%, and hasn't changed much since. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.5% of American households still fell under SNAP eligibility.
In related news, actor/director Ben Affleck, who's been taking a bit of heat for his casting as Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, has recently taken the Live Below the Line challenge, to where he lived off $1.50 a day for a week, to raise poverty awareness. Other celebrities who've taken the challenge are Debi Mazar, Josh Groban and Sophia Bush.