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Derechos Donating Member (892 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 05:16 PM
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The Republicans' Really Thin Gruel
The food stamp program isn't called food stamps anymore. It's called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.


The Republican budget would make two changes to the program. First, it would transform SNAP from an entitlement to a block-grant. Instead of an open-ended federal commitment to the program, guaranteeing benefits for any Americans that meets the eligibility guidelines, the federal government would simply give the states an allotment of money, set by a pre-determined formula. It's the same change Republicans propose for Medicaid and, as with that program, the shift is no minor thing.


But the Republican budget wouldnt simply convert the program into a block grant. It would also reduce the program's funding. The impact would likely be severe, as states either reduced the value of the subsidies, served fewer people, or some combination of the two. (Again, this is similar to what the Republican budget would to Medicaid.)


And whats the rationale for this cut? Republicans and their supporters say the programs spending has gotten "out of control" and warn that it's fostering a culture of dependency, just like the old welfare system did. But the evidence for this is pretty thin. SNAP expenditures have unquestionably grown in recent years, but there are good reasons for that, starting with the fact that the economy is lousy.


Fraud and waste arent issues, either. Last year the General Accounting Office found that program errors, which include underpayment of benefits as well as overpayments, were less than 4 percent. And trafficking--that is, the illegal trade of food stamps for other goods or money--had fallen to less than one cent on the dollar. Both were record lows.
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