The GOP Wants to Slash Food Stamps. Here’s Why That’s a Stupid Idea.

Pennies pinched today will result in big healthcare costs down the road.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress have publicly flaunted their desire to slash food aid for the poor. The deficit-swelling tax cut package they passed in late 2017 will embolden their efforts later this year, when the twice-a-decade farm bill—which funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  (formerly known as food stamps)—comes up for debate. 

Meanwhile, a new paper from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrates just how short-sighted this miserly agenda is.

The paper shows that people who struggle with food access are more likely to have chronic health conditions including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and diabetes; incur higher healthcare costs, including from publicly funded programs like Medicaid; and are more likely to require emergency-room visits, running up bills they can’t afford to pay. 

All told, the CBPP researchers found, “people in food-insecure households spend roughly 45 percent more on medical costs in a year ($6,100) than people in food-secure households ($4,200),” including both out-of-pocket and government spending. 

The SNAP program is a crucial bulwark for keeping America’s low-income population from facing the health-destroying effects of chronic food insecurity. Adults in households that receive SNAP benefits spend $1,400 less per person than households with similar incomes but no SNAP benefits. As for children, the program delivers benefits that reverberate throughout their lifetimes. Note that 70 percent of SNAP-receiving households include kids, and that the program helps keep one in four US kids fed

In short, cutting the budget for SNAP is a classic example of a false economy: a short-term saving that results in large, unaccounted-for costs down the road.

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate