New Jersey residents who rely on food stamps will have their benefits reduced drastically as a result of the U.S. Senate passing the Farm Bill on, February 4, 2104, and sending it to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Food Stamp benefits nationwide will be cut by more than $8 billion over the next 10 years.
Garden State residents along with their neighbors from Pennsylvania will absorb the biggest brunt of the cuts as it significantly affects both states. According to Philly.com approximately 157,000 households in Jersey will have their food stamp benefits cut which is considered to be disproportionate in comparison with other states.
New Jersey is among 15 states that participate in the “Heat and Eat” program which is a combination of energy assistance with the food stamp program, which is also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Proponents of the cuts see the program as a way for people to take advantage of federal entitlements, while those who support the program see the cuts as a vital service and will hurt those who need it the most.
As usual, politics plays into fray as Democrats sought a $4 billion cut over 10 years and Republicans wanted a $40 billion cut over the same period. The $8 billion cut is seen by some as a compromise between both parties.
The cuts also come at a time when federal benefits or entitlements, depending on your political correctness preference, is a contentious issue especially on social media where many feel those who get such benefits should be drug tested in an order to receive those benefits along with a better checks and balances system to weed out the fraud and abuse of the system.
New Jersey Senator Robert Mendez (D) voted in favor of the bill but stipulated that he did so because it was better than the republicans “unconscionable effort to gut the program”, adding that the bill does contain agriculture benefits for the state. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D), the states freshman senator, voted against the bill stating that “it could cause further harm to people.”