Big Republican Government

The GOP’s Food Stamp Plan is More Government

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The GOP's upcoming proposal for "reforming" the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) will be dead on arrival in the Senate, but now we know exactly what it's going to look like.

Republicans are going to say their bill will not "cut" the program, but that's not exactly true. Their proposal calls for shifting funds from food to a whole new bureaucracy run by states but funded by the federal government.

The proposal to reauthorize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would subject more enrollees to “work requirements,” and would require states to set up training programs for 3 to 5 million people who might be unable to find suitable private sector work. Such programs currently serve 700,000 SNAP recipients. [...]

The draft of the Republican plan includes other proposals that Democrats dislike. One such proposal involves stricter eligibility standards, like requiring more SNAP applicants to document their income and expenses even if they already qualify for another means-tested federal program.

If this bill makes it to the Senate it will be die in a filibuster, but even if it were passed into law it's possible it would be struck down in court under very recent Supreme Court precedent.

The reason not every state participated in the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is because the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the law that required states to participate lest they lose all Medicaid funding. A requirement that states create new programs to maintain food stamp funding could be struck down in a very similar fashion.

Republicans were for federalism before they were against it. Their dubious legal challenges of programs intended to help people under President Obama could prevent them from hurting people under Trump.

Although overall funding will not be cut, I expect the farm lobby will oppose a bill that shifts money away from food to red tape for no productive reason. Food stamps are an indirect subsidy for the agricultural industry.

  • More government, less food.

  • muselet

    I’m willing to bet the paperwork for documenting income for SNAP eligibility would be made so onerous that no one would fill it out if it meant getting ten million dollars.

    The author of the bill, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who’s been holding hearings on overhauling food stamps since 2015, said this week that nobody would be kicked off food stamps under his plan.

    “Either they got a job that’s paying more money,” Conaway told the “Adams on Agriculture” podcast Wednesday, “or they decide for themselves that meeting these requirements to get the training or get a job is not worth working 20 hours a week on and they self-select and get off.”

    [link omitted]

    Hurting as many people as possible is the GOP’s brand.

    And I’m not nearly so sanguine about the Supremes following their own precedent if doing so would lead to an outcome they don’t like. I can imagine the Alito wing deciding the requirement in the ACA was that states shall expand Medicaid, while the requirement in Mike Conaway’s Starve The Poor bill is that states must create new programs, and those are obviously completely different (reality and language be damned).

    –alopecia

    • JMAshby

      They wouldn’t necessarily have to rule again, they could simply allow lower court rulings to stand. And to me it’s less about what Alito and Thomas will do as it is what Roberts will do.