Fox's Steve Doocy today complained that congressional Republicans are "demonized" over attempts to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - formerly known as food stamps - "a little bit." But the GOP has attempted to cut SNAP several times and put essential benefits for millions of low-income families at risk as a result.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed "there are times when people do need help, but some have suggested 'I'm sure there's some scamming going on out there.' " Doocy went on to point out that "the number of people who are on food stamps has dramatically increased" and complained "remember, we told a story, I think, about two weeks ago about how a Republican senator was trying to just scale it back just a little bit. And he was demonized. You can't touch the food stamp money they said."
Doocy is significantly downplaying efforts to cut the program. Congressional Republicans have tried over and over to slash the program, including plans to slash billions from the program which experts have noted would take benefits away from millions of low-income families.
In the last few months alone, House Republicans have put benefits for low-income families in significant jeopardy. A March 29 New York Times editorial that called Rep. Paul Ryan's budget "cruel" pointed out that his plan "would cut 17 percent of the SNAP budget, or $133.5 billion over a decade." The editorial cited a Center on Budget And Policy Priorities (CBPP) report to point out:
The budget would cut 17 percent of the SNAP budget, or $133.5 billion over a decade. As the center points out, there are only two ways to achieve that savings: Mr. Romney could simply take the benefits away from 8 million of the 47 million who now receive them, or he could cut everyone's benefits. For a struggling family of four, that would mean a loss of $90 worth of food a month.
Already, most people who get SNAP benefits use them up in the first two weeks of a month, and many turn to food banks by month's end. Cutting benefits so sharply would lead to a significant increase in hunger, particularly among children, which would quickly create dangerous ripples through the health and education systems.
But the Ryan plan, while the most drastic, is not the only effort by the GOP to slash SNAP benefits. The CBPP further noted that in April, the House Agriculture Committee attempted to "produce $33 billion in savings over the next decade" by "obtain[ing] the entire amount from cuts to" SNAP. The report found that that proposal would entirely remove benefits from "[s]ome 2 million individuals, disproportionately working families and seniors."
Recently, House Republicans have tried again to cut the program's funding. The so-called Farm Bill includes another $16.5 billion in cuts to SNAP, a move that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would not only cause millions to lose their benefits, but would cause almost 300,000 children per year to no longer be eligible for free school meals:
The legislation would restrict categorical eligibility to only households receiving cash assistance. Based on data from the Department of Agriculture, CBO estimates that about 1.8 million people per year, on average, would lose benefits if they were subject to SNAP's income and asset tests. In addition, about 280,000 school-age children in those households would no longer be automatically eligible for free school meals through their receipt of SNAP benefits.
While Doocy defends Republicans seeking to cut food assistance, hunger is increasing as an effect of the economic downturn. Currently 14.5 percent of American households do not have "access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life" and 16.2 million children were living in food-insecure households in 2010. USA Today reported that including SNAP benefits as income lowered the number of families living on $2 per day per person from 1.46 million to 800,000.
Research intern Ausan Al-Eryani contributed to this item.