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USDA Chief: We're Nixing 'Loopholes' for Food Stamps

New proposal from Trump administration could kick 3.1M people out of SNAP program
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2019 7:33 AM CDT
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks in Tokyo on May 13, 2019.   (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

(Newser) – A new proposal from the Trump administration Tuesday could cut more than 3 million people from the food stamps program. Per Reuters, the Department of Agriculture says a tightening of who qualifies for SNAP, aka the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, would save the federal government about $2.5 billion annually; the Congressional Budget Office offers a more conservative savings estimate of $8.1 billion from 2019 through 2028. The administration's main beef with the current setup: that the economy is strong, with low unemployment, and that people in 43 states who qualify for benefits through a federal assistance program called TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) automatically qualify for SNAP benefits, with no income review. "SNAP should be a temporary safety net," USDA chief Sonny Perdue said in a Monday conference call, per Fox News.

He adds, per Reuters: "Some states are taking advantage of loopholes that allow people to receive the SNAP benefits who would otherwise not qualify." Another USDA rep says "even millionaires" can qualify for food stamps under the current system, citing the case of a rich Minnesota man who signed up for food stamps to "prove" the system's supposed flaws. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says the proposal is just an attempt to circumvent Congress, which has stymied the administration's previous tries at slashing food stamps. "This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance," she said in a statement, per the Washington Post. Starting Wednesday, public comments must be reviewed for 60 days before the policy can go into effect. (Read more food stamps stories.)

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