Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2015

How Democrats Plan to Cut Food Stamps Without Enraging Their Base

For Democrats especially, any talk about cutting billions from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is uncomfortable and certain to create internal strife. But negotiators on the farm bill believe they’ve found a way to make about $8 billion in savings from the program palatable for most Democrats.

The key is eliminating a loophole that enables states to help some low-income residents with nominal subsidies to pay for their heating in the winter in order to trigger much higher food stamp benefits. Some states, such as New York, will make a $1 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program  payment to low-income people in order to automatically qualify them for the maximum federal food stamps Standard Utility Allowance for 12 months.

According to a source tracking the farm bill talks, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that raising the minimum energy subsidy states would be required to make to $20 would be enough to disincentivize states from utilizing the loophole, potentially saving the government $8 billion over 10 years.

Though most Democrats would prefer the maximum benefits to be paid out — they often point to a Moody’s study that estimates that each dollar the federal government spends on food stamps generates $1.70 of economic activity — finding savings by eliminating a loophole is more politically palatable for them than the deeper cuts proposed by the House.

Though these changes to LIHEAP — and the utilities payments affiliation with the food stamps program, are a little convoluted — the Department of Health and Human Services has a good explainer here.

Comments (41)

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  1. Forums4Justice

    Dec. 9, 2013
    2:31 p.m.

  2. jberg1

    Dec. 9, 2013
    9:20 p.m.

    Make no mistake about this: no matter how certain Dems try to spin this, if they do further cut SNAP, they will be taking food out of the grocery carts of millions of families. If the Democrats want to keep their majority, they need to prove they are truly different than the other side.

    • Jack Deth

      Dec. 10, 2013
      10:21 p.m.

      With all that taken tax payer money siphoned off and spread around so many Democrat PACs and “tax exempt” organizations devoted to buying votes and either buying or tainting elections in Red States.

      I’m sure some can be kicked back to SNAP to ensure that inner city and other than Caucasian voters stay bought and paid for and firmly on the Democrat Plantation.

      • jberg1

        Dec. 11, 2013
        7:56 a.m.

        Jack: A) your post is racist B) It is factually false. Out of the 20 states with the highest SNAP participation, Romney won 16. The facts do matter

  3. jberg1

    Dec. 9, 2013
    9:22 p.m.

    More on why this is a horrible idea: http://nyccah.org/node/1665

  4. jberg1

    Dec. 9, 2013
    9:24 p.m.

    Here is a detailed discussion of the proposed cuts and why Senator Stabenow’s denials just aren’t true: http://www.thenation.com/blog/177495/while-obama-talks-poverty-stabenow-agrees-8-billion-more-snap-cuts#

  5. Laka

    Dec. 10, 2013
    7:47 a.m.

    Gotta say it: LI HEAP is a great name for any Obama Administration program.

    • kentuckywoman2

      Dec. 10, 2013
      3:01 p.m.

      Racist. LiHeap has been around long before Obama ever became an Illinois Senator, let alone U.S. Senator and President. Only a racist would make the claim that LiHeap is an Obama program. I hope you get your comeuppance – like perhaps lose your job and your savings and have to rely on the government for help. Maybe then you’ll grow a heart and understand what it’s like to need help – and have selfish people like you deny it.

      • James Hearing

        Dec. 10, 2013
        6:23 p.m.

        The race card, really? You are an embarrassment.

        • kentuckywoman2

          Dec. 11, 2013
          12:24 a.m.

          I have come to the conclusion that that’s what it is a large part of the time. No matter what this man does, he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. I know a great many people who hate Obama’s guts because he’s Black – because they’ve told me. Nothing “race card” about that. It is what it is. You can believe what you want.

      • Jack Deth

        Dec. 10, 2013
        10:16 p.m.

        Want some cheese with that whine?

  6. David Zion

    Dec. 10, 2013
    8:12 a.m.

    The fact that this loophole exists and is never discussed is pretty amazing. I assume there is a rule that states if you get other assistance you automatically qualify for the maximum food stamps despite income tests. You have to love the government.

    It does not work this way but if they left the 8 billion in the hands of the tax payer, how much economic growth would it generate – more or less than he 1.7 ration? Also, in that case, the people whose money it is would presumably benefit from the use of their own money as opposed to others gaining the benefit.

  7. Dimart45

    Dec. 10, 2013
    1:31 p.m.

    Now how many other loopholes with billions of savings do you think they could find if they made an effort?

  8. dogman1313

    Dec. 11, 2013
    9:26 a.m.

    Not to bright. No wonder the economy is screwed up. Spend a dollar you don’t have & it generates $1.70 in economic activity. In what real world? After spending 17 trillion dollars, the US should have 28.9 Trillion under that logic. Liberal Math at its best.

  9. Biff Wellington

    Dec. 26, 2013
    11:32 a.m.

    “Saving” the federal government money by increasing the burden on state taxpayers…you gotta love government math!

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