As if living in the secluded halls of Versailles, U.S. House Republicans — with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan in the lead — have voted for a budget plan that would cut deeply into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
Such is the state of affairs in our nation that, today, slightly more than one in eight U.S. and Oregon households don’t know where their next meal will come from. In addition to these food insecure households, more than 1 in 20 actually go hungry.
Matters would surely be worse but for SNAP, the main public structure that protects people from going hungry in times of economic crisis. At present, SNAP helps about one in five Oregonians.
Oregon’s experience following the recession underscores the importance of SNAP. From the start of the recession in December 2007 through February 2011, the number of Oregon households benefiting from this public food assistance program increased by 74 percent.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reports that the Ryan plan would cut SNAP by $127 billion over the next 10 years — a cut of nearly 20 percent. For Oregon, that would translate into a loss of about $1.88 billion over the ten-year period.
The Ryan plan does not provide much detail on how it would achieve the savings. It does call for transforming SNAP into a block grant — a set amount of money for states, irrespective of need. That would hinder the program’s ability to help families keep food on the table during economic crises.
But there’s only two ways to reduce costs: throw people off the program, cut food assistance for those in the program, or both.
In other words, when it comes to addressing hunger in America, the Ryan plan seems to be:“let them eat cake.”