Setting the Record Straight on SNAP, Part 10: Cantor’s Misleading Defense of the House SNAP Bill

September 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

House Majority Leader Cantor has responded to some of our criticisms, as well as those of faith leaders, service providers, and policymakers, on the new House Republican proposal to cut nearly 4 million people off SNAP in 2014, which the House will vote on later today.  His response, like earlier statements from House leaders, misrepresents the House bill.

Let’s look at two examples from Rep. Cantor’s defense of the provision from Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) that lets states end benefits for people who aren’t working or enrolled in job training, even if the state doesn’t offer them a job training slot.

First, Cantor argues, the provision wouldn’t harm those willing to work because “there is more than enough federal funding already for job training programs which SNAP recipients can enroll in to fulfill the work requirements.”

In fact, there is a large shortage of slots for the substantial number of unemployed workers who are seeking job training.  Existing employment and training programs simply cannot absorb large numbers of new participants.

Federal funding for adult job training programs under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has been cut by roughly one-third since 2001 in inflation-adjusted dollars, even before the deeper cuts that sequestration has imposed.  At least 48 states have waiting lists for WIA-funded services for very low-skilled adults lacking basic education, and the share of low‐income people who receive intensive job training services through WIA has fallen substantially in recent years.

In addition, much of the non-SNAP federal funding for job training goes to targeted populations, like people with disabilities or dislocated workers, many of whom do not qualify for SNAP.  Finally, most people who receive intensive job training services through WIA are not low-income adults.  WIA has no income eligibility limits, and its incentives actually discourage programs from serving the most disadvantaged workers.

Second, Cantor defends a feature of the Southerland provision that encourages states to cut unemployed people off SNAP by giving them large cash payments for cutting their SNAP caseloads — regardless of whether the states end SNAP for jobless workers without offering them a real work opportunity or providing training that leads to better jobs.

“The critics,” Cantor said, “can’t have it both ways — they can’t complain that the House bill doesn’t provide additional resources for state activities to ensure compliance with the work requirements and then turn around and complain that the work requirement gives the states more money.”

But, the provision lets states use the payments from cutting people off SNAP for any purpose, including tax cuts and special-interest subsidies or plugging holes in state budgets. That is, states wouldn’t have to use any of the money to expand job training.

Rep. Cantor’s statements to the contrary, the simple fact is this:

The House SNAP bill would let states cut poor people off SNAP even if they are actively looking for work, even if they’re on a waiting list for job training, and even if they’re working, but for less than 20 hours a week while they try to find a full-time job.

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More About Stacy Dean

Stacy Dean

As Vice President for Food Assistance Policy, Dean works extensively with program administrators, policymakers, and non-profit organizations to improve the food stamp program and provide eligible low-income families easier access to its benefits.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at CBPP.org

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. 1

    Shame on us for denying food to those out of work, returning veterans, and children! I read recently that states claiming the most federal disaster relief are the same ones paying the least money to fund such handouts. Colorado the most recent example; their representatives voted against aid for Sandy but are claiming enormous amounts for the recent and disastrous flooding…all while denying human contributions to global warming. Indeed were are “exceptional” but not in a worthy or compassionate way.

  2. 2

    I think Eric Cantor is not really being honest because if this bill is passed the people that doesn’t have job will go hungry.Because the only way they can get food is by the food stamps that they receive each month.I sure wish that the republicans stop this hatred that they have for government programs because some of these programs are needed a lot.Especially the food stamp program”SNAP”.Because that’s how the jobless people will ever get food to feed themselves and their family if they don’t and can’t find a job.



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