Senate votes to kill 56,243 jobs with $4.1 billion in cuts to food stamps, House GOP would like to cut $135 billion

6918640906_7e2fc010a0Austerity is supposed to be dead but Tuesday night the Senate voted to cut $4.1 billion from the “Heat and Eat” programs that supplement food assistance for seniors and those with disabilities.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) offered legislation last month that would block any cuts to the SNAP program. It was soundly defeated after Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Agriculture Committee, opposed it — unfortunately.

The Nation’s George Zornick points out that food assistance not only provides essential nutrition for the most vulnerable, it also is the most effective form of stimulus the government can offer:

Aside from being, well, cruel, the food stamp cuts in the Senate bill are also damaging to the economy. The Center for American Progress, in a study released in March, found that for every $1 billion cut from SNAP, 13,718 jobs are lost…

So the Senate bill, by that calculation, will cost 56,243 jobs. CAP noted the losses “will likely have the greatest impact on younger workers, since they account for a disproportionate share of workers in food-related industries.”

The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman adds a third duty to SNAP benefits serve in addition to easing poverty and stimulating the economy:

Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of doing well in school and growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are in a very real sense an investment in the nation’s future — an investment that in the long run almost surely reduces the budget deficit, because tomorrow’s adults will also be tomorrow’s taxpayers.

Senate Democrats are obviously trying to prepare for a battle with House Republicans by conceding some cuts to a program that doesn’t hit core SNAP benefits. Paul Ryan’s latest budget calls for $135 billion in cuts to food stamps, which would kill 1,851,930 jobs.

The right sells these cuts by smearing those on assistance as lazy, though the evidence directly contradicts this. “It turns out that a majority of the families with work-eligible adults that went on the SNAP program regained employment within the same month, and almost 90% of them had regained employment within the following year,” the Liberal Bias blog points out.

Republicans continually bet on the working poor not showing up at the polls to punish the GOP for policies that transfer trillions in wealth to the investor class. The same people who will see their food stamps cut are also likely to be denied Medicaid by their Republican governors.

The greatest irony is that the need for food stamps is growing fastest in areas that vote Republican.

[Photo via U.S. Department of Agriculture | Flickr.com]

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