A Decade of Progress on Asset Limits is at Risk
By Inemesit Imoh on 04/25/2012 @ 11:30 AM
House Agriculture Committee votes to cut Food Assistance Program and require states to reinstate asset tests
On Wednesday, April 18, the House Agriculture Committee voted to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) by more than $33 billion over ten years. If the Committee’s proposal is approved by the full House and eventually becomes law, this devastating cut would reduce benefits for all recipients and would force states to reinstate asset tests. Millions of low-income families would once again have to choose between saving for the future and putting food on the table today.
The Committee’s proposal would reduce benefits for all recipients and require states to reinstate asset tests for SNAP by eliminating Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility. Under this policy, households are automatically eligible for SNAP if they receive non-cash Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, formerly called welfare) or maintenance of effort (MOE) funded benefit or service, such as an informational pamphlet. Since this policy has been implemented, approximately 40 states have used this option to waive the asset test for SNAP applicants, allowing millions of low-income families to build the savings they need to successfully lift themselves out of poverty.
The House Agriculture Committee proposes to roll back these reforms, add an unnecessary administrative burden to the states by requiring them to process additional applications, and undermine millions of families’ efforts to build their financial security and self-sufficiency. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the proposal would cut off SNAP assistance for two to three million low-income Americans, including children, seniors and people with disabilities, beginning in 2013.
Savings and assets are the foundations for a strong middle class. Everyone agrees that the long-term economic security of the nation should be a priority for members of Congress, but lawmakers should not punish families working to build investments for themselves or their families while struggling to make it out of poverty.
Congress should protect, not eliminate, policies such as Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility that allow low-income families to save and build wealth. The full House of Representatives will debate the Committee’s legislation in May and the Senate Agriculture Committee has already started discussions for their own version of the proposal.
Your lawmakers need to hear from you about how important Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility is for families that are striving to improve their financial security! Our advocacy center currently features an action alert with template messages to your Representative and Senators. CFED will be following this issue, keeping you up to date, and providing the resources you need to reach out to your legislators in opposition to these cuts. Please join our efforts to protect asset-building opportunities.