Setting the Record Straight: Safety Net Dollars Go to People — Not Red Tape

March 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) claimed this week that just 30 percent of the dollars spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) actually benefit program participants.  The truth, plain and simple:  that figure is way off.  We’ve pointed this out, and fact checkers from the Washington Post and PolitiFact failed Bachmann on their tests of accuracy.

In fact, almost 95 percent of federal spending on SNAP goes toward providing benefits to eligible households to purchase food.  What’s more, states achieved a record-low SNAP error rate in fiscal year 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program.  Only 3 percent of all SNAP benefits represented overpayments, meaning they either went to ineligible households or went to eligible households but in excessive amounts, and more than 98 percent of SNAP benefits were issued to eligible households.

And SNAP is in good company among safety net programs.  As we’ve explained and the chart below illustrates, at least nine-tenths of federal spending — and in most cases, more — for programs including Medicaid, housing vouchers, and Supplemental Security Income reaches low-income Americans.

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More About Dottie Rosenbaum

Dottie Rosenbaum

Rosenbaum is a Senior Policy Analyst focusing primarily on federal and state issues in the Food Stamp Program as well as issues that involve the coordination of food stamps and other state-administered health and income security programs, such as Medicaid, TANF, and child care. In addition, Rosenbaum has expertise on the federal budget and budget process.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. 1

    Thanks for checking the reference source and clarifying this information.

    This program is why we aren’t like Africa with starving children.
    If they were to take this away, we would be like Africa with lots of children who die or need medical treatment for starvation.

    Way too many statistics are sited on the media where they don’t even say there source, yet Americans believe what they see even if there is not a legitimate reference source.

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