Friday, September 7, 2018

House farm bill sets up millions to lose SNAP benefits

Here’s a real gem from 538’s significant digits email.

2 million low-income Americans
Nearly 2 million low-income Americans would lose their benefits under a farm bill being considered by the House, according to the nonprofit research firm Mathematica. That bill would alter the eligibility criteria for 42 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That 2 million figure includes nearly 500,000 households with young children. [The New York Times]

Let’s explore that Times report, About 2 Million Low-Income Americans Would Lose Benefits Under House Farm Bill, Study Says, by Glenn Thrush.

I know we are all busy this election season, so let me lead with the bottom line and follow with some snippets.

The Bottom Line

Trump ordered a set of tariffs which have hit the agricultural heartland especially hard. Now Trump and his GOPlins in congress are conspiring, publicly, to financially assist bribe the farmers. But part of this compensation package messes with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that helps millions of households avoid hunger. Paul Ryan’s House does not care. Do you?

Where this is coming from

President Trump favors imposing stricter requirements on adult recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, and has disparagingly described beneficiaries as “welfare” recipients.

On Wednesday, he called for lawmakers to adopt the House version of the bill, which also includes billions in subsidies for agricultural states in the Midwest.

“The Trump Economy is booming with the help of House and Senate GOP,” he wrote on Twitter. “#FarmBill with SNAP work requirements will bolster farmers and get America back to work. Pass the Farm Bill with SNAP work requirements!”

The rest of the story (by the numbers)

Nearly two million low-income Americans, including 469,000 households with young children, would be stripped of benefits under the House version of the farm bill being considered this week by congressional negotiators, according to an analysis by a nonpartisan research firm.

The bill, a multiyear spending measure that narrowly passed the House in June, includes a proposal to reformulate income and expense criteria for the 42 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Under the bill, states could remove about 8 percent of those receiving aid from the rolls, according to the research firm, Mathematica, which used data from the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service.

About 34 percent of seniors in the program, or 677,000 households, would lose benefits under the proposal, according to the study. More than one in 10 people with a disability, another 214,000 households, would also lose eligibility.

Those estimates do not account for another proposal in the measure, which would impose strict new work requirements on beneficiaries. An additional 1.2 million people could be stripped of aid under that plan, according to a separate analysis released in May by the Congressional Budget Office, the study’s authors said.

More follows the break.

The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas, expressed impatience with the progress of talks, urging the Senate to “pick up the pace” to address a growing agricultural slump in the farm belt that has been exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s trade war with China.

The focus on agricultural subsidies, Senate staff members said, makes it less likely that the House proposals will be part of a final deal. But advocates for the poor were concerned that some, if not all, of the cuts could make it into the final version.

"Those who rely on SNAP — two-thirds of whom are children, older adults and people with disabilities — should have access to benefits without undue barriers,” said Jasmine Hall Ratliff, a program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the Mathematica study.

Earlier Wednesday, the Agriculture Department said that 15 million households reported being “food insecure” in 2017. That is a slight decrease from the previous year, in terms of percentage, but still above levels seen before the economic downturn a decade ago.

“We must not accept mass deprivation in the wealthiest nation in world history as any sort of ‘new normal,’” said Joel Berg, the chief executive of Hunger Free America, a nationwide advocacy group. “Hunger is unacceptable in any society, but it’s particularly outrageous in the United States.”

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