The thing about cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—whether the benefits cuts that go into effect November 1 or the $4 billion a year in further cuts that House Republicans are pushing—is that if you're a House Republican, you don't care about the people who will be left hungry. You don't care about all of the people whose employers pay them so little that government assistance is the only answer for survival. You don't care about all of the milk, broccoli, bananas, eggs, and spaghetti that people won't have to feed themselves and their kids starting this week. You don't care that half of all children get food stamps at some point during their childhood, and half of all adults get them sometime between ages 18 and 65. Because if you're a House Republican, screwing poor people—children, adults, working, unemployed—is pretty much an article of faith. So here's another argument: Food stamp cuts are bad for the economy and for small business owners, as well as for long-term health care spending:
Economists have found that every dollar of SNAP spending generates roughly $1.70 in local economic activity. The USDA has calculated that food stamps generate an even bigger bang for the buck. So pinching food stamp recipients will ripple into the broader U.S. economy. Among other effects, that could dent revenues for the nearly 250,000 groceries and supermarkets around the country that accept SNAP payments, potentially affecting everyone from store workers and truck drivers delivering food to consumers, as food sellers raise prices to offset the loss of revenue.::Breaks out in bitter laughter:: I'm sorry. What was I thinking? House Republicans don't care about small business owners, either. Or the economy, except as it relates to the biggest corporations and the wealthiest individuals. And if you don't actually care about human consequences, long-term health care spending on things like low birth-weight children is only something you worry about if you actually intend that they should be taken care of. So, again, not a House Republican concern. The rest of us should be scared, though.
Meanwhile, research suggests that reducing food aid could not only increase hunger, but also undermine public health. In a six-year study, Children's HealthWatch, a nonpartisan pediatric research center, recently found that young children in families that got SNAP benefits were at significantly lower risk of being underweight, which is linked with poor nutrition, and of developmental delays. That jibes with research by Northwestern University economist Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach. She has found that since food stamps were introduced in the 1960s, women in the program have seen a reduction in low-weight births and a decrease in infant mortality.