Showdown Over SNAP
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
BEREA, Ky. - An economic policy analyst says Kentucky is "especially vulnerable" to cuts in food stamp benefits, because of the state's continued high unemployment and struggles with chronic poverty. House Republicans have called for deeper cuts to the food stamp program, known as SNAP, and lawmakers return to Congress this week to take up the debate.
According to Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, the new proposal would immediately kick up to 88,000 Kentuckians out of the program.
"This would deny them basic nutrition assistance, basic food security, at a time when they and their families need it," he said.
U.S. House Republicans are pushing $40 billion in cuts to food stamps, a move which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns would eliminate benefits for 4 million or more low-income Americans.
Republican leaders who demand reform of the Food Stamp Program argue that increased participation in recent years is evidence of out-of-control spending. Bailey said claims of waste in the program are "inaccurate" and that cutting SNAP is counterproductive to helping the economy grow.
"Well, the SNAP program keeps 4.7 million Americans out of poverty," he said. "It's a key lifeline to folks who need it. The reality is that many of the folks who are on SNAP are on it because they are working low-wage jobs."
Those opposed to drastic cuts to food stamps appear to have an ally in the dean of Kentucky's Republican delegation in the U.S. House, Hal Rogers, who represents the second-poorest district in the country. In his words, "Number one, I want to say loud and clear that all eligible families in Kentucky will have access to food stamps."
Rogers chairs the House Appropriations Committee.
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