The New York Times “reported” on Friday: “House Republicans Pass Deep Cuts in Food Stamps.” The bill “slashes billions of dollars from the food stamp program,” intoned Times writer Ron Nixon. Narrative established: Republicans heartlessly devastate a program that feeds the poor.
One had to read to the sixth paragraph to find this sentence: “But even with the cuts, the food stamp program would cost more than $700 billion over the next 10 years.”
The Republican bill would cut $40 billion over a decade from a program that will still spend $700 billion over that period. It is a scratch, not a deep cut. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Republicans would “take food out of the mouths of millions of American children...” About those millions...
It used to be that food stamp recipients had to meet tight income and work requirements to qualify. Now more than two-thirds of recipients get on the program simply by qualifying for other federal assistance. And the work requirements have been relaxed.
The Heritage Foundation has pointed out that in 2000, 17 million Americans participated in the program, which cost less than $18 billion a year. Nearly 48 million Americans now participate, at a cost of more than $82 billion. House Republicans tightened eligibility and strengthened work requirements to target the aid more directly to the poor. Good for them for doing the right thing even though they knew the baseless attacks would come.