Trump’s Budget Targets Food Assistance Programs

According to a terrific report in The Washington Post, there are a lot of inaccurate stories you may have heard about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Some detractors of the program say that "it’s rife with fraud," or that it’s "abused by immigrants,"  or that it’s used ony "to buy junk food." Yet many economists who have studied the program closely say there’s little evidence these stories are true. 

The newspaper interviewed Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has spent the last 20 years researching the SNAP program. His work — which has been funded by the Department of the Agriculture, as well as numerous charitable foundations and anti-poverty groups — includes nearly 200 published papers and a book on the economics of the program, titled "SNAP Matters." 

The Post asked Gundersen to debunk some of the most common questions received about SNAP.  

He said that the highest proportion of SNAP participants are children. Of those who aren’t children, or on disability or retired — and I think this is one of the things worth emphasizing about SNAP — the majority do work.   

What makes SNAP perfect, according to Gundersen, is that the tax on each additional dollar of income is 24 cents. There’s also no cliff effect with respect to SNAP, because as your income increases, your benefits gradually go down.  

There's a lot of confusion surrounding this program, and when lawmakers like Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, quotes the Bible — “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” — as justification for cutting some adults’ SNAP benefits, we are headed down the wrong path.

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