USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack took to the press last week to criticize the House Republican plan to turn the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in block grants, which history shows is really just a way for Republicans to deny services to poor Americans under the guise of state-level innovation.
Secretary Vilsack reminds us that “SNAP fraud and error rates are at or near historic lows, while every dollar invested in SNAP regenerates $1.74 in economic activity, according to a 2010 study by Moody’s Analytics.” The commenters on his WSJ go ape, shouting the usual tropes of fraud and abuse without any counter-evidence.
Food and farm columnist Alan Guebert hits the Easter paper with this reminder of how well SNAP meets the not exclusively Christian mission of feeding the poor:
The average per person monthly SNAP benefit is $125, about $4.15 per day or $1.39 per meal.
In 2014, 92 percent of the $76 billion spent on SNAP was spent on food, five percent (or $3.8 billion) went to the states to administer the program, and three percent was spent on block grants to fund local programs like food banks.
Historically, SNAP benefits have equaled about 0.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. During the 2008-2011 economic crisis, however, that figure rose to 0.5 percent. In 2014, it fell to 0.45 percent, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office sees it returning to its historic 0.3 percent by 2020 [Alan Guebert, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places,” Lincoln Journal-Star, 2015.04.03].
$4.15 a day—that’s a dozen eggs, loaf of bread, and maybe a pint of milk. While these folks go without fish to fry, Rep. Noem, maybe you and your colleagues should look for bigger legislative fish to fry.