Clyburn Statement On Republican Plan To Gut SNAP Benefits

Sep 19, 2013 Issues: Financial Services, Spending Cuts and Debt

WASHINGTON --  U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn took to the floor of the House today to offer strong opposition to Republican plans to strip $40 billion from nutrition assistance programs.  Here are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

I rise today in opposition to H.R. 3102, the latest attempt by the Republican Majority to add more insults to the injuries that have been inflicted upon many working families, making their lives much more difficult.

It has become clear to me that some of my colleagues on the other side either don’t believe or don’t care that their preferred policies would make the poor poorer and the hungry hungrier.  They seem unmoved by the arguments of many, including former Senate Majority Leader and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, that this bill would make it more difficult for millions of Americans to feed themselves and their families.

For the last half century, the Farm Bill has always included both agriculture subsidies and nutrition assistance, a combination that makes a lot of sense.  Every time that EBT card is swiped, farmers – large and small – grocers - national and local; and banks – Wall Street and Main Street, benefit. 

For American farmers and the agribusiness industry to succeed, they need consumers to eat the food they produce.  In that sense, nutrition assistance is just another kind of agriculture subsidy that just happens to have the added benefit of ensuring that all Americans have enough to eat. 

With the comprehensive nature of past farm bills, it is no surprise that 532 agriculture, conservation, rural development, finance, energy, and crop insurance groups oppose the Republican Leadership’s cynical ploy to separate nutrition assistance from the rest of the Farm Bill. 

We talk about how SNAP benefits go to individuals, but if the truth be told the real beneficiaries are local communities and enterprises.  My Republican colleagues claim to be big supporters of small businesses.  But you can’t support small businesses if you don’t support their customers. 

This ill-advised legislation would also hurt businesses that have nothing to do with food. 

In my district, the average household income among SNAP recipients is less than $15,000.  If these low-income people lose access to nutrition assistance, money that they would otherwise spend on other needs would be spent instead on food, taking customers away from other businesses that are vital to our economic vitality.  An analysis by the Department of Agriculture of similar SNAP cuts last year found that more than 50,000 jobs would be affected. 

SNAP funding is crucial to our economy because those dollars go directly into the local economy. 

Moody’s Analytics—no liberal think tank—has estimated that $1 spent on SNAP generates $1.70 in economic activity.  That means that this bill, with $40 billion in cuts, would cut economic output by $68 billion. 

I recognize that there are legitimate philosophical differences between the two parties on the role of the federal government.

My Republican colleagues and I might differ on how to grow the economy, but at the very least, we should be able to agree that we can’t grow the economy by shrinking it.