The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities details why Paul Ryan’s plan to block-grant SNAP (food stamps) is even worse than it appears at first glance.
The report clarifies that the Ryan budget’s proposed conversion of SNAP to a block grant — which accounts for $125 billion of the budget’s $135 billion in SNAP cuts over the next decade — wouldn’t take effect until 2019. As a result, all $125 billion of those cuts would occur over just five years. The kinds of changes this would require are extraordinary.
To illustrate what this means:
If the cuts came solely from restricting eligibility, 12 to 13 million people would need to be cut from the program.
If the cuts came solely from across-the-board benefit cuts, benefits would have to be cut by more than $50 per person per month in 2019 (for a family of three, that’s $1,800 over the whole year). Put another way, the maximum SNAP benefit would be set at just 73 percent of the Thrifty Food Plan, the Agriculture Department’s estimate of the minimum amount a family needs to afford a bare-bones, nutritionally adequate diet.
Forcing 12 to 13 million people to go hungry is obviously a horrible idea, but so is cutting benefits to this degree. $50 per month is a lot money when you don’t have much to begin with and can mean the difference between eating for the next two weeks or not.
According to USDA Food and Nutrition Service data, a cut of $50 per month would be more than a third of what many residents currently receive in food stamps, and in some cases it would be nearly half.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to approve Paul Ryan’s budget today by a margin of 221 to 207, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting against the bill.