A New Level of Draconian: One Reason the SNAP Bill Failed in the House

June 21st, 2013 at 11:37 am

Running to NOW! at noon on MSNBC with Alex Wagner, but just read this statement from my CBPP colleague Bob Greenstein, a person who’s been deeply involved with the food stamp program for 40 years, and wanted to share it with you.

It’s Bob’s reaction to an unbelievable, even by today’s standard’s, amendment to the SNAP bill that failed in the House yesterday.  One reason it didn’t get enough votes for passage is that Democrats who were considering voting for the bill (which was plenty bad already, cutting SNAP by $20 billion at the cost of nutritional benefits to 2 million people) bailed due to an amendment included in the bill from Rep Southerland (R-FL).

…this extreme provision would allow states to terminate benefits to households where adults — including parents with children as young as 1 year old and many people with disabilities — are not working or participating in a work or training program at least 20 hours a week.  It would not require states to make any work opportunities available and would provide no jobs and no funds for work or training programs.  Thus, people who want to work and are looking for a job but haven’t found one could have their benefits cut off.  Their children’s benefits could be cut off, as well.

Why would a state do this?  Because, under the measure, states would have a powerful financial incentive to pursue this route:  it allows them to keep halfof the savings from cutting people off SNAP, and to use the money for whatever state politicians want — tax cuts, special-interest subsidies, or anything else.

You got that?  It’s bribing states with federal dollars to throw people and their kids off the SNAP even if they want to work or get trained, but can’t find a job or program.

Last word to Bob:

I have been involved with SNAP — and with every bill addressing farm programs and food stamps — since 1973, including the years when the legendary right-wing conservative Senator Jesse Helms chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee and sought repeatedly to cut the program deeply.  But, not even Senator Helms ever supported a measure as extreme as this one.

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One comment in reply to "A New Level of Draconian: One Reason the SNAP Bill Failed in the House"

  1. Nick Batzdorf says:

    For perspective, around 1980 I had a fabulous political science professor in college who was *very* conservative – as in Southern Baptist conservative – who considered Jesse Helms an absolute jackass. So when you talk about today’s right-wing Congress being farther out there than Jesse Helms, that’s saying something.