Budgets, it is often said in Washington, are moral documents meant to convey priorities. House Republicans’ fiscal year 2018 budget makes their priorities crystal clear—namely, delivering tax cuts to millionaires at the expense of America’s struggling working families.
The budget’s radical, sweeping cuts to programs that everyday Americans rely on should be a wake-up call for anyone who believes that congressional Republicans are more reasonable than President Donald Trump. Like the budget the Trump administration released in May, House Republicans’ budget would gut services for people with disabilities, eviscerate Medicaid, cut Social Security, and hike costs for families struggling to afford college.
Among the cruelest elements of the proposal is its plan to decimate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Previously known as food stamps, SNAP is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program and helps ensure that families do not go hungry when a parent loses a job, when an emergency strikes, or when wages simply aren’t enough to make ends meet. Two-thirds of SNAP benefits go to children, seniors, and people with disabilities; in 2015, SNAP lifted 4.6 million people, including 2 million children, out of poverty.
Despite SNAP’s modest benefits—which average only $1.39 per person per meal—the program’s effects extend far beyond helping families put food on the table. Research shows that SNAP’s long-run positive impacts include improving health outcomes for infants and new mothers and boosting kids’ educational attainment. The program is also a major engine of job creation, with every $1 billion spent on SNAP supporting nearly 11,500 additional jobs. By enabling cash-strapped families to purchase food, SNAP benefits create a ripple effect through the economy, supporting jobs not only in stores such as groceries and retailers but also in upstream industries such agriculture, food manufacturing, trucking, and warehousing.
House Republicans want to slash SNAP by a whopping $154 billion over 10 years. The bulk of this cut—roughly $141 billion—would occur between 2023 and 2027, under the guise of providing greater “flexibility” to states, though Republicans have not said whether this would come in the form of a block grant or something else. This $141 billion cut—representing 42 percent of projected spending—would cripple the program and likely force states to rip critical food assistance away from struggling families. In this sense, House Republicans’ cuts are even more draconian than Trump’s—whose budget slashes SNAP by 38 percent over the same period. If these cuts were enacted solely by taking families off the program, more than 7 million households per year could lose access to benefits starting in 2023, and 6.6 million households could lose access in 2027.
(Excerpted from Center for American Progress 8/8/17