On November 1, a cut to benefits will kick in that will affect 47 million food stamp recipients. In 2009, Democrats included a funding increase in Barack Obama’s stimulus law, but that increase ends November 1. Conservatives have taken the position that the skyrocketing growth of food stamps has exacerbated the federal deficit and encouraged people to avoid looking for work.
Hunger activists are furious, and claim that the cuts would be catastrophic. Lisa Davis of the food bank network Feeding America, claiming there will be a huge growth in those visiting food banks during the holiday season, said, “We have never seen a cut like this affecting all beneficiaries. With the government shutdown and other national and international issues going on, many people have no idea this is coming.” Tom Nelson of Share Our Strength, added, “We’re hugely concerned … this will affect 23 million kids. At a minimum we can’t accept more cuts.”
The cuts will reduce the benefits for a family of four by $36 per month; for single adults it will be reduced $11 per month.
In addition to the cut to benefits, hunger activists are fighting against a cut in a farm bill that would entail cutting $40 billion from food stamps in the bill. The bill would prevent states from waiving work requirements in order to qualify for food stamps and allow them to make food stamps more difficult to obtain when the recipients were getting home heating assistance.
But Republicans say the cuts are warranted; Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), said, “Welfare spending at the end of this year will total out to $217 billion more than welfare spending in 2008 . . . The current structure of welfare in America depresses cash wages and punishes work. Our compassion should compel us to reform welfare and promote wage growth.” Miller said.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), was adamant about fighting the GOP, saying, “We have to fight any cuts in the farm bill.”