The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

84° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cutting funds for SNAP is hurting those in need

    Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a $40 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, beginning next year, this would remove 3.8 million low-income Americans from the life-sustaining program.

    This bill is bad policy. The idea that those utilizing SNAP benefits are disincentivized to find work because the government is providing them with food is a fallacy. This bill, if signed into law, will negatively affect our nation’s most vulnerable population.

    “In the real world, we measure success by results,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said on the House floor. “It’s time for Washington to measure success by how many families are lifted out of poverty and helped back on their feet, not by how much Washington bureaucrats spend year after year.”

    But cuts to SNAP do nothing to aid Stutzman’s mission of lifting low-income families out of poverty. According to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to end hunger, the average net monthly income for a household receiving SNAP benefits is $338.

    The recent cuts target able-bodied adults without any dependents. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., told constituents that the cuts should target any “adults who refuse to work.”

    Cutting a population out of a vital program in order to address the abuse of a small minority is not prudent or reasonable. The vast majority of able-bodied adults on SNAP use the program for its intended purpose — to secure food.

    According to Feeding America, “The perception that a sizeable portion of SNAP participants do not really need benefits is flatly wrong.” SNAP provides a necessary service to the lowest-income individuals in America. To qualify, one’s gross income can be up to 130 percent of the poverty line.

    The flawed logic presented by McHenry and House Republicans fails to recognize the multitude of reasons that adults cannot find work. Adults can struggle due to undiagnosed mental illnesses, an inability to qualify for disability benefits, or because they live in an economically depressed region. Nevermind the fact that we are still reeling from the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

    “Arizona is the nation’s third-highest state for food insecurity,” said Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., whose district includes much of Tucson. “As families struggle to recover from the economic downturn, it is unconscionable for us to be making it more difficult for millions of Americans to eat.”

    Arizona’s unemployment rate is 8.3 percent, which is a full percentage point above the national average.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, SNAP kept nearly four million people above the poverty line in 2012 and has prevented millions more from sinking further into poverty.

    “I think the cuts are too drastic and too draconian,” Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., told Fox News. “Those that really need the program will suffer.”

    Stutzman said he disagrees and claims that in order to be fiscally responsible, the cuts are needed.

    However, the cuts are unnecessary, as the program is expected to reduce on its own as the economic recovery continues. As the number of available jobs increases and unemployment decreases, enrollment in SNAP will also decrease.

    If House Republicans want to help low-income individuals get back on their feet again, taking away a program that provides these individuals with food is surely not the answer. Congress should be focusing on how we can aid our economic recovery and provide more jobs to those SNAP participants who are actively searching instead of stripping them of a necessary program.

    Anthony Carli is a senior studying political science. Follow him on Twitter.com/@acarli10.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search