Saturday, February 16, 2013
Will President Obama Let Congress Cut Food Stamps Benefits?
Some in Congress want to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamp benefits. But this is the lifeline for many people. Although, the recession "officially" ended in 2009, it was based in part by the decrease in unemployment rates. But overall the economy is still weak and although unemployment may have gone down, it is still high.
A cut in the food stamp program does not take into consideration underemployment. Many people have taken jobs paying far below what they were previously earning, just to be employed and have money coming in. That could account for the significant increase in the number of people qualifying for food stamps--from 31 million in 2008 and increasing by 44 percent from 2009 to now.
The bottom line is that the number of participants in the SNAP program has soared. And the government wants to cut benefits? Seriously, this government cut is literally taking food right out of the mouths of the poor.
Food stamps have been around since 1939. It temporarily ended in 1943 and was then revived by Congress in 1959. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson passed the Food Stamp Act and made it a permanent program to be operated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but its purpose remains the same, to help the poor buy food.
The national participation rate was 75 percent overall in 2010. For poor working individuals and families, the participation rate is still high at 65 percent. What is more concerning is that half of the states in the U.S. have participation rates significantly higher than the national average.
What this means is that there remains a significant amount of people qualifying for food stamps--about 46 million. The recession resulted in an increase in the program through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, but this is soon to be reversed through a cut in the program sometime this year. The increase in 2009 averaged about $80 more per month for a family of four. After October 31 of this year, this same family will see a decrease of about $25.
So, the question is, "Will President Obama Save The Day? And Should He?"