Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan rolled out his new poverty plan, but it was anything but kind to the poor. Following the typical party line, Ryan's plan would privatize many crucial social programs and make deep cuts to many others. Understanding why Ryan and other Republicans are obsessed with cutting programs for low-income Americans isn't too difficult, but it's hard to agree with. Republicans hold an ideology that if you can't make it on your own, the government shouldn't be there to help hold you up. Pushing the false narrative that anyone using government services is lazy, millions of Americans side with the GOP, wondering why those "lazy" Americans won't just get a job and make it on their own.
With the the food stamp program so ritical to those in need, it's important to seperate fact from fiction. Here are four reasons why cutting from the food stamp program is bad for the economy while debunking common Republican misconceptions about the program and poverty as a whole.
1. The truth about who really uses food stamps:
Republicans often claim that food stamp recipients are mostly lazy Americans who don't want to work, the reality is much different. According to snaptohealth.org, half of the people using the SNAP program are children under the age of 18 years old. Nearly 70 percent of those under the age of 18 are living in a single parent household. The research also notes that over 25 percent of benefits also go to disabled Americans and senior citizens.
"SNAP eligibility rules require that participants be at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Level. Recent studies show that 49% of all SNAP participants are children (age 18 or younger), with almost two-thirds of SNAP children living in single-parent households. In total, 76% of SNAP benefits go towards households with children, 16% go to households with disabled persons, and 9% go to households with senior citizens.
According to demographic data, 43% of SNAP participants are white, 33% are African-American, 19% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian, and 2% are Native American."
2. Is it true that most food stamp payments are being abused? Actually, no:
Over 95 percent of SNAP payments were considered accurate in 2012, which is the highest rate of accuracy in the program's history. Research shows that only 1 percent of benefits were exchanged for cash, showing a very minimal amount of fraud and waste.
"According to a recent USDA analysis, SNAP reached a payment accuracy of 96.19% in 2012 (the highest that the program has ever seen). Trafficking rates—the number of benefits exchanged for cash—are at 1%. There is always room for improvement, but the integrity of the SNAP program is currently functioning at the highest level it has ever seen."
3. Food stamps are actually keeping people out of poverty:
According to the most recent date from the Census Bureau, the SNAP program lifted 4 million people out of the poverty in 2012. As the Huffington Post points out, in addition to 4 million people being lifted out of poverty, millions more were considered less poor because of the program.
"In addition to keeping some people out of poverty, SNAP also made tens of millions of people less poor in 2012. For these individuals, the program reduced the gap between their income and the poverty line and made them better able to afford a basic diet.
SNAP is highly effective in reducing the extent and depth of poverty and reducing hunger, but millions of Americans still struggle to afford food. Data released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that 17.6 million American households lacked access to adequate food at some point in 2012 because they didn't have enough money or other resources to meet their basic food needs."
4. People aren't living the "high-life" like the GOP claim:
Republicans often promote the message that those on food stamps are taking that money and buying high luxury items, going out to fancy dinners and purchasing an elaborate wardrobe. The reality is that the average SNAP client receives a monthly benefit of only $133 while the average household receives a monthly payment of $289. The money received is used for food, with only 1 percent of benefits used for a trade in for cash.