Trump’s New Budget Targets Food Assistance Programs

The Lempert Report
May 17, 2017

The problem is that too many consumers and lawmakers have little idea of what they actually are, according to a terrific report in the Washington Post.

According to the newspaper, “among the stories you may have heard about SNAP: It’s rife with fraud; it’s abused by immigrants; it’s typically used to buy junk food. Many economists who have studied the program say there’s little evidence these stories are true”. 

They 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 interviewed Gundersen to ask him to debunk some of the most common questions we get about SNAP.  

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

What makes SNAP perfect, he says, 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 is a lot of confusion surrounding this program and when lawmakers like Texas Representative Jodey Arrington 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.