In a largely symbolic vote, the House Agriculture Committee approved $33 billion in cuts to the federal Food Stamps program, a move that would significantly increase poverty, hunger groups argued.
The cuts, which were approved last Wednesday, would reduce Food Stamps funding by $7.7 billion in the first year, $19.7 billion over the next five years, and the balance over another five years. Food Stamp spending in 2011 was roughly $72 billion, meaning that these cuts would translate into a nearly 50 percent reduction.
The cuts represent an effort by House Republicans to address upcoming budget reductions. As a part of the debt ceiling negotiations last year, congressional leaders and the president agreed to cut more than $1 trillion from the budget by the end of 2012 or face automatic across the board budget cuts in January. The Food Stamp cuts represent the GOP’s effort to place domestic spending cuts ahead of defense cuts or tax increases as a tool of deficit reduction.
House and Senate Democrats accused their Republican colleagues of jeopardizing families in poverty and placing the interests of the wealthy over the interests of lower and middle class Americans. Republicans, on the other hand, argued that many state’s Food Stamp requirements did not adequately reflect a family’s financial situation, with some representatives pointing out the now infamous case of a Michigan lottery winner who remained on Food Stamps.
Regardless of political position, the cuts appear to be largely symbolic, as the Senate, controlled by the Democratic Party, will likely reject them out of hand.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer