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House Votes Cuts to SNAP…Again

September 20, 2013

SNAPCardAs expected, House Republicans voted to strip almost $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps. Citing widespread waste, House Republicans argued that the cuts could be made to make the program more efficient and to end abuse. But most observers note that there is little waste in the program, and the cuts would strip benefits for an estimated 14 million people, the vast majority of whom are employed or children.  A Fox News video focused on a single individual using food stamps to buy lobster came to define the debate in recent weeks.

But much like the mythical “welfare queen” that defined the debate over public assistance programs in the 1980s, the mythical “food stamp abuser” today is largely a figment of our collective imaginations. Every study that closely considers the scope of abuse in the SNAP programs concludes that it is one of the most efficient and least abused government programs. Yet as is often the case, it’s not the reality but the perception—the collective imagination—that truly matters.

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