(CNSNews.com) – White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney testified before Congress Wednesday on the president’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request that calls for cuts to the SNAP program, which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is also known as food stamp assistance.
The budget calls for $191 billion cut from the SNAP program over 10 years, from fiscal year 2018 to 2027. It also cuts the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) block grant, or cash assistance, by $15.6 billion over 10 years. As part of its welfare reform plan, the budget calls for tightening eligibility and includes a work requirement for those that don’t have children.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) blasted the president’s budget, saying she has “never before” seen “such a cruel and morally bankrupt budget.” The budget “dismantles our nation’s basic living standards, which Americans have turned to for decades.” It pushes “millions of people into poverty and over the edge,” Lee said.
“This budget destroys people’s lives,” she said, adding that it forces people to “fend for themselves” and leaves them “out in the cold.”
“This budget—what you’re doing is you’re asking people to fend for themselves, and you’re really leaving them out in the cold, and our moral obligation is to make sure that every American has a decent standard of living. This budget is a broken promise, and it’s really a betrayal to every American in favor of tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations,” Lee said.
“I’d like to just ask you, how are people going to eat when they need a temporary helping hand with a cut of $190 million in food assistance. Then you add these onerous work requirements, and then yet you cut $1.3 billion in workforce training programs so people cannot be trained or retrained for jobs, which I don’t see much in terms of investment and job creation in this budget either,” she said.
“How are people gonna get health insurance with a cut of $1.3 trillion in Medicaid? And how are people going to get a house to either purchase or rent with the elimination of the housing trust fund and a $2 billion cut in rental assistance?” Lee asked.
“And also, let me remind you, [Agriculture] Secretary [Sonny] Perdue mentioned that it was a program that was working, why fix it if it’s not broken, and he appeared to not be aware that you all were going to recommend these cuts,” Lee added.
Mulvaney said it’s “not unreasonable to ask” if there are people on assistance who should not be.
“I think it’s reasonable to ask, if you had 28 million people on SNAP before the recession, 47 million people on it at the height of the recession, and 42 or 44 million people today, it’s not unreasonable to ask if there are folks on SNAP who should not be, because we should have seen that number go down. SNAP should be counter-cyclical. It should go up during bad economic times and come down during better economic times. We’ve not seen that,” Mulvaney said.
“Mr. Mulvaney, at least 20 percent of people eligible for SNAP don’t even receive SNAP because of stigma and other reasons, so there are more people who need SNAP benefits,” Lee said.
“That may be. Let me deal with the every American deserves a decent standard of living. Does that include our kids?” Mulvaney asked.
“What about the standard of living for my grandchildren who aren’t here yet, who will end up inheriting $30 trillion in debt, $50 trillion in debt, $100 trillion in debt?” Mulvaney asked. “What about their stand- who’s going to pay the bill, Congressman? That’s what this is all about.
“That’s what this new perspective—who is going to pay for all the stuff you just mentioned? Us or somebody else? And I suggest to you, if it’s important enough for us to have, then we should be paying for it, because right now, my unborn grandchildren are paying for it, and I think that is morally bankrupt,” Mulvaney added.
“I have grandchildren also, and I want to make sure that they have the opportunity to get a job so they can help pay for our government, which is a government that should be enhancing the standard of living and making sure everyone has a chance for the American dream,” Lee said.