The amount of money available for food stamps will be paired back to 2009 levels effective November 1. The government had temporarily funneled extra funds into the program as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package.
There will be less money to go around for some 47 million food stamp beneficiaries making it harder to qualify. Eligibility
is means-tested and subsidies can vary depending on household expenses, location, medical bills, age and other government support received, such as veterans' benefits. Generally, Americans whose net income is below 100 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for food assistance.
Liberal critics warn that 23 million children will be detrimentally impacted by the action, according to The Hill.
Conservatives say that spending on food stamp has spiraled out of control and that calling the reduction a "cut" is misleading.
The federal government spent $78 billion in fiscal 2014 on food stamps. Overall, spending doubled between fiscal years 2008 and 2012, according to the Heritage Foundation
, after having previously doubled between 2000 and 2007.
The Food Stamp budget will be one of the touchy issues to be decided by a House and Senate conference committee when it meets Oct. 30 to hammer out farm bill legislation. On top of ending the 2009 funding increase, the Senate version cuts an additional $4 billion from the program, according to The Hill.
There are 15 separate nutrition assistance programs mandated by Congress – Food Stamps being the biggest. Others include the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and child nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch Program. All told, there are some 80 federally funded means-tested welfare programs totaling about $1 trillion in annual outlays.
An internal Department of Agriculture audit conducted in June found there may be duplication in the various programs.
Meanwhile, the federal government has been unwilling to reveal how much money is paid to individual retailers when consumers redeem food stamps, Bloomberg News reported.
The Obama administration is resisting a Freedom of Information request submitted by South Dakota's Argus Leader newspaper. The government says the Freedom of Information Act does not apply because the data would infringe on the confidentiality of participating retailers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit is now hearing the case.
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