A new report found that government spending on food stamps helped to pull the American economy out of the Great Recession, a boost to the program that comes as the Trump administration has tried to dismantle it.
As Vox reported, economists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that funding on food stamps was an effective way to stimulate the economy since the start of the recession and economic downturn.
“Researchers found that every $22,000 in tax dollars spent on food stamps between 2001 to 2014 created about one job,” the report noted. “Grocery subsidies, which families usually spend right away, immediately pumped money into rural supermarkets and small businesses (and their employees) at a time when jobs were scarce.”
The Trump administration had previously floated a plan to charge a few to retailers that accept food stamps, one that would reportedly cost the industry more than $2 billion. As CNBC reported in 2017, the plan was part of a proposed overhaul of the food stamps program that would make deep cuts for the poorest American households, drawing bipartisan criticism. The plan includes a fee for retailers that accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP benefits.
The fee was to be charged to stores when they signed up and again after five years for a renewal. The Trump administration said this would raise $2.4 billion in revenue over the next 10 years, drawing criticism from the retail industry that had not been aware of the proposed change and was already fighting against the proposed changes.
The White House says that the new fee imposed on retailers would not be burdensome.
“Although a small number of stores may choose to leave the program rather than pay the fee, we do not expect that this will affect access to authorized stores,” a White House budget official said.
As CNBC noted, the overhaul would cut $191 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years by imposing strict work restrictions. Critics point out that the food stamp program not meant to be a job program, only to feed hungry Americans.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argued that work requirements are not an effective way to encourage or support employment. The think tank noted that some states have started to experiment with approaches that focus on helping people increase earnings through training in high-demand sectors.
“These approaches are expected to have better outcomes than work requirements and do not risk cutting off food benefits to unemployed individuals who need them to eat,” the agency noted.
The Trump proposal to cut back on food stamp funding drew criticism even from Republicans, including two high-ranking party members who vowed to fight the changes.. Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, who serve on the House and Senate agriculture committees, said they would oppose any measure that would hurt the most vulnerable members of society.