This week the White House published its FY19 Budget Request. Much like last year’s budget request, it can only be read as an insult to poor Americans and to our country’s legacy as a leader in global anti-hunger work. Much like last year’s budget request, the Congressional Hunger Center urges Congress to reject it.
We have grave concerns about proposed changes and cuts to the SNAP program, which would weaken one of the nation’s most reliable and most effective anti-poverty programs. SNAP is a lifeline to 42 million Americans(1), most of whom are children, elderly, or unable to work due to disability. Changes to SNAP eligibility requirements would strip benefits from people who cannot find work, and force seniors to work until the age of 62 or lose their food assistance. Restricting waivers for the ABAWD rule weaken states’ ability to expand SNAP enrollment in response to localized economic circumstances. Furthermore, the plan to replace EBT benefits with commodity foods would dramatically increase the complexity of the SNAP programwhile taking money away from merchants and small businesses and offending both the dignity of SNAP recipients as well as the longstanding conservative economic principle that individuals know how to spend money better than the federal government does.
We further oppose cuts to anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs such as Medicaid, TANF, SSDI, SSI, and Section 8 housing vouchers, and the outright elimination of funding for the Congressional Hunger Center’s Hunger Fellowship Programs; such cuts would make life harder for millions of Americans and put our country even further away from the goal of ending hunger and poverty in the United States.
Globally, a 25% reduction in USAID spending and the complete elimination of the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program would have us turn our back on our proud legacy of powering better nutrition and development for countries in the Global South. These cuts would come precisely at a time when funding is most needed: five countries are teetering on the brink of famine, and after years of decline rates of food insecurity around the world are once again creeping upward, driven by conflict and climate change(2).
Beyond its cruelty, this budget request is profoundly out of touch with the political reality in Washington and around the country. Just last week, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to approve an increase in federal spending(3), recognizing the urgent need to invest in domestic priorities that help low- and middle-income Americans. What’s more, there is broad bipartisan support for SNAP, foreign aid, and other programs designed to improve the lives of people experiencing hunger and poverty. Indeed, this January, a poll showed that the percentage of Americans who want the government to “do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people” was at an all-time high(4).
Much like last year’s request, the budget proposed by the White House for FY19 is a threat to Americans in need and American values across the globe. The Congressional Hunger Center calls on Congress to act again as it did last year and vigorously reject this cruel proposal.
- USDA-FNS. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation and Costs
- FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017.
- Washington Post. 12 of the most important things in Congress’s massive spending deal.
- NBC News. Poll: Americans want government to “do more.”