robbing peter to pay paul

Goddamnit, I am giving up on today.

On the heels of Sen. Richard Lugar’s op-ed in the Times today, comes news that via a manager’s amendment, the offsets for the $4.5 billion Senate  child nutrition bill will come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps).

That’s right, the best way to pay for school lunch and breakfast is to cut food stamps.

(head explodes)

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA, aka the stimulus bill) provided more money for SNAP by increasing benefits for those already in the program, relaxing requirements for the childless unemployed (because adults need food too), and providing more admin money to work through all these changes.  The increase was to be gradually phased out by 2018.

Makes sense, right?  Higher unemployment=more food insecure* hungry Americans=more on or needing food stamps.

The manager’s amendment would end the increases in 2016, full stop.

Let me assure you, there are many, in fact too many, kids who depend on school meals (breakfast, lunch, summer feeding programs, and after school/weekend feeding programs) as an important and sometime primary source of food.  That’s why we see food insecurity hunger rise among kids during the summer- no school means no lunch.  Since 1969, the number of children participating in the school lunch program has increased steadily, along with the number of kids eating free and reduced price lunches- the kids whose families are most likely to need SNAP.  SNAP participation rates have fluctuated a bit more, but have been on the rise since 2000.

I am left sputtering and incoherent.  The Senate has proposed a raid on SNAP to fund various other projects- the unemployment extension, higher Medicaid payments to states, even a small business bill.  Say what you will about these plans(I, for one, take issue with some of the tax credit extension in the unemployment act), SNAP is not the way to fund them.

That pales in comparison though, so allow me to repeat myself: the best way to pay for school lunch and breakfast is to cut food stamps.

Ugh.  I give up.

*- I despise the terms “food insecure” and “food security”.  You are not food insecure, you are hungry.  However, this has become the accepted terminology, so I provide it.  Also, the concept of food security, to me at least, encompasses far more than whether your stomach is full when you go to bed at night.  And it differs dramatically depending on whether the debate is domestic or international.

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