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Food stamp users, prepare for some belt-tightening. Harkening back to Clinton-era welfare economics of 1996, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has proposed a $6.2 trillion cut to annual federal deficits for the next decade. The proposal, which passed the House earlier this month and resumes legislation today as Senators return from Easter-Passover break, would have a major impact on nutritional assistance programs.
The Ryan budget plan looks to cut the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by 20 percent between 2012 to 2021 by capping the open-ended system with a block-grant -- either by capping eligibility or benefits, or both. This means benefits would not fluctuate with economic need. States would instead be allotted a max.
If eligibility heads for the chopping block in 2012, more than 8 million people would be cut, reports the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -- that's the equivalent of the population of the 30 smallest states. If benefits go, SNAP users would be reduced to 88 percent of the USDA's estimated needs-per-family in the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP). A family of four would lose $147 per month; families of three would lose $116.
No doubt, there's been opposition -- but none yet with a solid alternative, though Senate Democratic aids expect action from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
According to The Hill, Reid and a group of Dems spent their vacation soliciting American business investment in China, while Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is expected to introduce a budget blueprint with recommendations from bipartisan negotiating group, Gang of Six. Stay tuned, Old Western-style, we imagine.