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With a Record Number of Food Stamp Recipients, Congress Still Loots Fund


In early December, Congress passed the Child Nutrition Act of 2010 (The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act); however, controversy still surrounds the bill regarding the cuts to the food stamp fund in order to pay for the act.

With a record number of Americans receiving food stamps as this WSJ report highlights, are those cuts to the fund such a good idea? From the WSJ:

Some 42.9 million people collected food stamps last month, up 1.2% from the prior month and 16.2% higher than the same time a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Nationwide 14% of the population relied on food stamps as of September but in some states the percentage was much higher. In Washington, D.C., Mississippi and Tennessee – the states with the largest share of citizens receiving benefits – more than a fifth of the population in each was collecting food stamps.

With Obama signing the bill, it is noted that Democrats were not happy with the looting of the food stamp fund:

The major snag was over how to fund healthier school meals and related programs. The deal called for cuts in future food stamp benefits, which alarmed members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rouse met with CBC members at a White House session to listen to their concerns, and President Obama dropped in for a quick visit. In the end, the White House pledged at some future time to deal with the food stamp issue.

In a Dec. 1 statement, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the CBC would back the bill because “with poverty and childhood obesity on the rise, this legislation achieves the twin goals of expanding the pool of needy children who are eligible for school nutrition programs while establishing healthier meal guidelines for American schools.”

She added, however, “It is unfortunate that in order to pass The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act it comes at the expense of future Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program funding. As more Americans slip into poverty and unemployment remains at painfully high levels, we should not have to choose between feeding poor children or their parents at a time that some in Congress argue for a $700 billion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.

To that point, it’s always the rich vs. the poor with the Democrats, but staying on topic here, why didn’t the Democrats force Obama to make good on his promise to refund the program in the tax cut deal as they pile on the pork? Additionally, I will concur with Ed at HotAir on this one:

Eight billion dollars in a $3.8 trillion budget amounts to … 0.21%. What about the other 99.79% of federal spending? And let’s not forget that last year’s omnibus budget bill that completed the FY2010 budget contained in itself over $17 billion in earmarks. I guess Congress gets to pork out while the poor and unemployed sacrifice.

Looking at each report from the USDA during Obama’s presidency, we see an increase in the numbers of enrollees–setting a new record each time during the 2-year period–beginning at 33.5 million people in 2009 to 42.9 million people through October 2010. With the number of enrollees in the food stamp program and unemployment hovering around 10 percent, the outlook for decreasing the food stamp rolls is bleak. Finally, with the Democrats refusing to bring the extension of the tax cuts to the House floor, which also includes unemployment benefits, more people can be expected to enroll in the food stamp program, but how will they pay for it?

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