Tighten our belts? You have to be kidding.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is expected to introduce a bill that could come to a vote this week, which would cut SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) benefits for 4 to 6 million struggling Americans. SNAP provides critical assistance to millions of people, mostly women and children, to stave off hunger. In 2011, SNAP lifted the incomes of almost 3.9 million people above the poverty line (including 1.1 million women and 1.7 million children). And in a nation where nearly 50 million Americans suffer from food insecurity annually – including 15.8 million children – SNAP benefits are tangible, direct, and life-saving. But they’re already modest, averaging less than $1.40 per person per meal.
And now they’re on the chopping block.
Republican House leadership introduced a bill earlier this year that proposed to cut SNAP by $20 billion over 10 years, but the bill was defeated at least in part because of pressure from the far right for more cuts. Enter Congressman Cantor with a revised plan to double the cuts by placing new restrictions on recipients and eliminating states’ options to address local challenges. Here are a few key points about the proposed changes:
Unsurprisingly, these changes would affect many of our country’s most vulnerable, cutting off the lifeline that SNAP provides to individuals and families in communities that have been left behind in the recovery; the stories about sacrifices that families make even with SNAP benefits are heartbreaking. Under Rep. Cantor’s plan, millions would be denied these crucial benefits, including low-income moms and kids, seniors, veterans, and jobless workers. With sequestration cutting deeply into other supports for low-income families and unemployment still unacceptably high – especially for single moms and women and men of color – it is simply unconscionable for Congress to consider dismantling a vital piece of the safety net.
Who’s not being asked to tighten their belts? Certainly not the top 1 percent or corporations.
I’m mad as hell about SNAP cuts, and you should be, too.