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Food Stamps In Crosshairs Of Republicans' Plan To Save Military


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Food Stamps In Crosshairs Of Republicans' Plan To Save Military

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Food Stamps In Crosshairs Of Republicans' Plan To Save Military

Posted: 04/27/2012 7:57 am

WASHINGTON -- The latest Republican plan to reconcile the budget and preserve defense spending extracts even deeper cuts from programs to help the poor and Americans still reeling from the recession.

Although spending levels for the budget were set in the Budget Control Act passed last summer in the deal to raise the nation's debt limit, Republicans are pushing ahead with another plan that cuts more while trying to prevent the beginning of $600 billion in cuts over 10 years to the growth of the defense budget.

They are doing so because the Super Committee, which was supposed to find $1.2 trillion in cuts on which everyone could agree, failed, leaving the slashing up to a pre-agreed sequestration plan that extracts half the savings from the military.

Unless Congress acts, the sequestration begins at the start of 2013. Democrats in the Senate are arguing that the Budget Control Act counts as a budget, and therefore they won't take up debate on a spending plan for 2013, much less address Rep. Paul Ryan's House budget resolution.

So instead, the House has embarked on a seldom-used reconciliation process. Its aim is to have at hand an alternative to the sequestration on the theory that the Senate will not want to allow the defense cuts either, and won't have its own plan.

In a memo 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.

Republicans want to take away the stimulus boost this year, saving $5.9 billion over 10 years. They note that Democrats were first to raid the extra stimulus funding for SNAP in order to pay for other bills, including a child nutrition bill that was a priority of first lady Michelle Obama's. Democrats promised to put the money back, but that seems unlikely .

Another way Republicans want to save money on food stamps is by restricting automatic eligibility for those already qualified for another program.

Three quarters of households receiving food stamps were "categorically eligible" in 2010, according to the CBO, meaning they qualified because they received benefits from programs like Supplemental Security Income or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, informally known as welfare. Households that are categorically eligible are often subject to less stringent means testing for food stamps. And some households are eligible for SNAP because of "broad-based" categorical eligibility, meaning they receive non-cash welfare benefits that can be as insignificant as a pamphlet.

That policy borders on fraud, according to the GOP. In their proposal document, Republicans describe their plan to restrict broad-based eligibility under a header suggesting the change would be one way to "stop fraud."

"It's really misleading to call this fraud because people are eligible -- no one's doing anything fraudulent," Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy, said in an interview.

Many households receiving food stamps because of broad-based eligibility could still pass SNAP income and asset tests -- states have their own rules, but the federal minimum standard is income no more than 130 percent of the federal poverty line and no more than $2,000 worth of assets -- but some would not. Restricting broad-based eligibility would cut off 1.8 million people per year and save $11.7 billion over 10 years. The savings would be higher, but some of the savings are lost because the change would increase administrative costs.

Republicans also want to shut down "Heat and Eat," which they describe as a loophole. It allows states to boost SNAP enrollees' benefit amounts if they're receiving heating assistance. About 16 states are abusing the interaction, Republicans say, by sending SNAP recipients tiny $1 or $5 checks under the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program in order to boost federal food stamp benefits. Cutting off "Heat and Eat" would save $14.3 billion over 10 years.

Advocates for the poor, see the cuts not only as an attack on poor people, but as extremely short-sighted. A key reason that advocates have pushed broad-based eligibility for years is that it cuts down on overlapping workloads for the administering agencies, and helps get people -- especially the working poor -- access to aid that they deserve under law. That aid often becomes inaccessible to people who don't have the time or knowledge to deal with multiple bureaucracies.

"The reason that it was put in place was because there were so many households who weren't able to meet the paperwork requirements, or frankly, because so many stressed caseworkers weren't necessarily helping clients get the full benefit of the value that they could," said Stacy Dean, a spokesperson for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, referring to the Heat and Eat provisions. She also argued that ending the broader cross-eligibility standards would only mean local governments have to hire more people to do the same work while making it harder for people to navigate the system.

"It's redundant and wasteful, and it's just a barrier to eligible, needy people getting the benefits for which they are eligible," Dean said.

While SNAP rolls are expected to start falling after 2014, the military budget that the GOP is striving to protect will not, even with the sequester. According Larry Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, if the sequester remains in place, the military budget will still grow by nearly 20 percent over the next decade.

With defense spending continuing to grow, advocates for the poor, like Dean, see something else in deep cuts aimed at the less fortunate.

"We believe the Ryan budget is an assault on the safety net," she said.

HuffPostPol Republicans hope to make cuts to food stamps instead of sweeping defense cuts http://t.co/FRsaUjCM

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John Smith, a spokesman for Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance to military families, said his organization has seen the amount of food assistance it provides to military families double since 2008.

"The Defense Commissary Agency reports that nearly $88 million worth of food stamps were used at commissaries nationwide in  Read More... 2011, up from $31 million in 2008. There is little information about who is using the food stamps."

However the article states that military officials suspects that the bulk of the Food stamps use may be from veterans or personnel in the Reserves.

~Stars and Stripes November 2011

The cuts proposed by GOPers not only hurt the most vulnerable; but even hurt  the people (veterans and soldiers) who  the GOPers are always quick to claim that they support

Those who continue to post that SNAP  users are lazy people looking for handouts and are using the funds for purchase items other than food ought to feel very ashamed..........

confuseddemocrat: John Smith, a spokesman for Operation Homefront, a non-profit organization

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/confuseddemocrat/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150840859.html

9 seconds ago ( 3:11 AM)

These are not Republicans and haven't been Republicans for a long time. Republicans would support and uphold the Constitution and free up the economy so that it can grow and help the poor. They would not give more taxpayer money to the owners of the industrial military complex.

websmith: These are not Republicans and haven't been Republicans for a

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/websmith/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150980458.html

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34 minutes ago ( 2:37 AM)

The president will not be able to sign it until after the election.

Obama_for_Change: The president will not be able to sign it until

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Obama_for_Change/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150978534.html

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1 hour ago ( 1:54 AM)

Banding together to travel abroad to raid and plunder ws rendered obsolete for the philosophy of battle called 'defense'. Republicans have adopted the 'Bush jailhouse sucker punch' as a means to blind side peace loving citizens at home and abroad in the name of 'defense'. They forget that there are many revolutions to choose from where arrogant wealthy organized thieves lose to the maddened crowd. With all the Bush instigated radioactivity and crude oil toxins, the people better wise up fast. We all are being poisoned down and killed as I type. Don't forget the 1980s Bush41 deregulation of the meat packing industry and the past 15 years of the rise in number of Alzheimer's cases. You stuffed shirts out there need to do your homework before you vote in the 'Grim Reaper' himself.

howardtlewisiii: Banding together to travel abroad to raid and plunder ws

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/howardtlewisiii/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150975543.html

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2 hours ago ( 1:04 AM)

What our fearless leaders can't comprehend is the fact that when rich people want money they draw money out...poor people are more likely to rob the bank, so now we need more police due to a raise in the crime rate....Which is cheaper... Feed the poor or Fight more crime

Rob_Foraker: What our fearless leaders can't comprehend is the fact that

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Rob_Foraker/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150971360.html

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2 hours ago ( 1:02 AM)

According to an article in Stars and Stripes (Nov. 2011), food stamp usage has elevated 300% at military PX's. Why are the Republicans so ardent for more bombs, but not attmepting to feed the families of the military personnel who are using the bombs?

Sigmasoul: According to an article in Stars and Stripes (Nov. 2011),

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Sigmasoul/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150971218.html

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2 hours ago (12:56 AM)

So military vets don't use food stamps? I hope Americans are really paying attention to this. I don't care how much you hate Obama. These guys want to make sure another Obama never happens again for at least a half a century! Pure hatred,evil and fear!

99_percenter: So military vets don't use food stamps? I hope Americans

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/99_percenter/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150970577.html

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3 hours ago (12:28 AM)

i don't regret my service. Just sadden by the lack of help by people i protected

WeThePeople99percent: i don't regret my service. Just sadden by the lack

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/WeThePeople99percent/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150967517.html

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3 hours ago (12:23 AM)

GOP supporters. Are you so blinded by your party that you would forget the soldiers that defend you? Some of us need these programs. i guess YOUR FOX news didn't tell you

WeThePeople99percent: GOP supporters. Are you so blinded by your party that

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/WeThePeople99percent/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150967041.html

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3 hours ago (12:13 AM)

President Eisenhower representing Republican Party;

“Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

“Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and clothed.”

The GOP has come a long way. Sad.

emolik16: President Eisenhower representing Republican Party; �Should any political party attempt

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/emolik16/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150965788.html

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4 hours ago (11:39 PM)

The GOP - they are so high on their own greed they have gone insane.

Do everything you possibly can between now and November to show the GOP that there is a better way - the way of supporting, not destroying, our fellow Americans.

areaemail: The GOP - they are so high on their own

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/areaemail/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150961599.html

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4 hours ago (11:27 PM)

I have an idea, how about any Republican who complains about how unimportant government programs that care for their constituents lives a year without it? Better yet, how about this: take them off all the programs they complain about and leave the programs for those who need them.

tc71087: I have an idea, how about any Republican who complains

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/tc71087/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150960018.html

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5 hours ago (10:00 PM)

Maybe Republicans just think that if they are going to starve out the poor, they'd better have a good military to maintain their power once the country rises up to revolt!

Sherri_Vaters: Maybe Republicans just think that if they are going to

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Sherri_Vaters/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150947589.html

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HUFFPOST BLOGGER

5 hours ago ( 9:54 PM)

A further view from across the pond : When oh when are the American people going to realise that the Republican GOP Party, are not fit to hold office any more, all they are interested in is promoting WARS, to serve their own selfish financial ambitions, and as far as the POOR, and MIDDLE CLASS are concerned they can beg on the streets. The T/Republicans are a disgrace to your GREAT COUNTRY, please I beg you VOTE THEM OUT in November 2012.

Lawyer13: A further view from across the pond : When oh

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Lawyer13/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150946568.html

4 hours ago (10:52 PM)

Yes...only they've made panhandling and begging illegal in so many places - in fact it's illegal for homeless people to even sit down in many places.

ZhyKitty: Yes...only they've made panhandling and begging illegal in so many

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ZhyKitty/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150955093.html

4 hours ago (11:05 PM)

this IS NOT the country i defended. Speaking as a soldier i am ashamed of my people who would serve greedy tyrants in the GOP

WeThePeople99percent: this IS NOT the country i defended. Speaking as a

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/WeThePeople99percent/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150957037.html

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6 minutes ago ( 3:06 AM)

Believe me, we are trying to be rid of them but their supporters are tenacious in their refusal to see the truth.

daylily12: Believe me, we are trying to be rid of them

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/daylily12/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150980187.html

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7 hours ago ( 8:31 PM)

Let's just face it. We now have an economy built on war. Although it isn't talked about much, the military manufacturing process is keeping this country afloat. Eisenhower warned against this, but nobody cares about our greatest Republican President in history. They just care about the actor who tripled the deficit with "trickle down economics."

There used to be a big bomb plant in SC. I wonder if it's still there? I think it was somewhere near Aiken. Anybody know?

DSAldridge: Let's just face it. We now have an economy built

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/DSAldridge/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150933757.html

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Careful T'CONS - There has never been a sustainable democracy without a predominant middle class.

Jeff_Sadowsky: Careful T'CONS - There has never been a sustainable democracy

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jeff_Sadowsky/food-stamps-military-republican-budget_n_1457020_150931517.html

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