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Gov.Inslee to Sidestep Foodstamp Cuts by Boosting Heating Assistance Programs

Inslee to sidestep food stamp cuts
(Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

In a news release issued today, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state will be offering more heating assistance to families receiving SNAP or food stamp benefits.

SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is what used to be known as food stamps.    When the federal government passed the new Farm Bill in February, it included cuts designed to reduce the federal deficit by gradually lowering food stamp (or SNAP) payments.   In 2013, the feds spent over $76 billion dollars on SNAP for some 47.6 million people. According to the Washington Times and Wall Street Journal, that’s an increase of 70% since 2008.

Numerous states including Washington, stood to lose some $70 million in federal funds.  Under the new farm bill, to be eligible for SNAP, recipients must now also be receiving at least $20 a month in heating (utility bill) assistance.

So, Inslee announced today Washington will follow Oregon’s lead by giving at least $20.01 a month in heating assistance to all of the estimated 200,000 households in our state who are in the SNAP program.  This increase will make them eligible to remain in the SNAP program.

Where is this money coming from?  According to the Seattle Times, some $14.5 million will be taken from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  So, they’re diverting money from one federal grant-program to another to sidestep the cuts.   The purpose of the federal farm bill cuts were to A) reduce federal spending, and B) reduce the growing dependence of American citizens on government assistance.

GOP leaders are furious, saying it’s a shell-game designed to end run much needed budget cuts and deficit spending.  Inslee countered with this statement from today’s release:

“…This will not only help maintain economic stability for vulnerable families but for businesses in Washington, as the USDA estimates that every SNAP dollar spent generates about $2 in economic activity.”

Sound familiar?  This is the same basic statement uttered by numerous other liberal politicians who believe welfare in general is a great economic stimulator.  But according to the Heritage Foundation, and other respected economic experts,  it doesn’t work.   The Foundation explains it this way:

“…food stamp dollars come from the taxpayers, meaning that as program spending increases, fewer dollars are available in the private sector. “

The less money in the private sector, the less economic growth, the less tax revenue available, the more the government has to borrow.   Politicians like Inslee claim they’re trying to help needy families, but the opposite is actually true, according to the Foundation:

“…for the past five decades the federal government’s approach to helping those in need has meant getting more people onto welfare. Policies over the past decade or so, for example, have loosened the requirements for food stamp enrollment, and today the U.S. Department of Agriculture even operates food stamp outreach programs. For example, government-paid recruiters hold bingo games and “partiesto try to get more people on food stamps who might not otherwise seek taxpayer assistance.”   (Bold lettering added for emphasis).

Inslee’s plan to sidestep the farm bill’s attempts to cut federal spending and deficits doesn’t do anything to address the real economic issues facing our state and America.  Cut back on government, spending, and allow the private sector to grow, providing more real and long-term jobs for Americans.



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