According to the Huffington Post, the latest House Republican plan to reconcile the budget and preserve defense spending calls for even sharper cuts to programs designed to help the poor at a time when Americans are still trying to recover from a wobbly economy.
The Huffington Post reports:
In a memo (PDF) sent to members Wednesday instructing them how to write their reconciliation bill, Republicans picked a number of targets, including extracting $80 billion from federal workers and $44 billion from health care. In all, it identifies $78 billion to cut in 2013, and details around $300 billion over 10 years.
But the memo spends the most time targeting the exploding cost of food stamps, on which more Americans rely than ever, at greater expense to the government than ever before.
Each month during fiscal 2011, an average of 45 million mostly poor Americans received benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, at a cost of $78 billion to the federal government. Last year’s SNAP participation represented a 70 percent increase from 2007, and the highest enrollment the program has ever seen. In that time, the cost of the program more than doubled.
The Congressional Budget Office, which issued a report on SNAP last week, expects enrollment to keep going up through 2014 before it levels off.
Two-thirds of the growth in the cost of the program was a result of increased eligibility — and therefore increased enrollment thanks to the crashing economy. A fifth of the higher cost came from a boost in benefits provided by President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill. Rising food prices and lower incomes among enrollees — requiring larger benefits — accounted for the rest.
Read more at the Huffington Post.