SNAP, the federal food stamp program, is getting snapped up by Democrats these days, hungry for savings to placate deficit hawks and clear the way for legislation.
In a matter of hours Thursday, the Senate approved state fiscal aid and child nutrition bills which help pay for themselves by cutting more than $14 billion from food stamps. The savings come from rolling back a benefit increase approved in the giant economic recovery act last year, but with each bill, the cut-off date has gotten closer and closer, alarming anti-poverty groups.
Early drafts of the $26.1 billion fiscal aid package, for example, set a spring 2015 target date for the cut. This was then moved up one year to April 2014 in the final Senate bill to achieve total savings of about $11.9 billion.
The child nutrition bill, approved hours later, goes back to same well and moves the cut-off up to November 2013. This achieves about $2.2 billion in savings, money that helped broker a deal with Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans who had opposed efforts to cut instead from a farm conservation program popular with livestock producers.