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Pocan Asks CBO for Economic Impact of Republican Cuts to Food Stamp Program

Sep 17, 2013
Press Release
House to vote this week on bill that would kick 4-6 million people off of food assistance program

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As House Republicans prepare to introduce legislation this week to cut nearly $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and deny vital food support for four to six million low-income Americans, U.S. Rep. Pocan (D-WI) wants to ensure his colleagues understand the full implications of these drastic funding reductions on American families and the American economy. In a letter to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf, Pocan asks the CBO to include the impact of these cuts on economic growth and jobs in any analysis of the bill.  Estimates from the Center for American Progress indicate that these cuts would result in the loss of nearly 55,000 jobs just next year.

SNAP provides an average of $4.50 of benefits per day to millions of Americans, including 800,000 Wisconsinites. According to Moody’s analytics, every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity

“Cuts to food assistance programs not only take food off the tables of our poorest families, children, seniors and veterans, they also cut vital spending in our local economies,” Pocan said. “If House Republicans cannot be moved to vote against a bill that would leave millions in America hungry, perhaps facts on the destructive effects this legislation would have on local businesses and workers will impact their thinking.”

Pocan was joined on the letter by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), who has led the End Hunger Now campaign in Congress.

To raise awareness on the importance of these vital assistance programs, Pocan participated in the SNAP challenge this June, where he lived on a food stamp budget of $4.50 a day ($31.50 a week) for seven days.

Full text of the letter is below:


September 16th, 2013


The Honorable Douglas Elmendorf

Congressional Budget Office

Ford House Office Building, 4th Floor 
Second and D Streets, SW 
Washington, DC 20515-6925


Dear Director Elmendorf,

The House Majority is introducing a bill intended to serve as a substitute for the missing nutrition title of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM.). Media  reports state that the bill will include $40 billion worth of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Assuming that this is the case, we have a number of concerns we would like you to address when analyzing the legislation.

The Congressional Budget Office has released several economic analyses since the start of the economic downturn that have pointed out the relatively high multiplier effects of the SNAP program as a countercyclical economic stabilizer.  The necessary corollary is that reductions in SNAP benefits could have a greater impact in setting back our recovery than other policies that achieve equivalent levels of deficit reduction.  Given these potential consequences, we want to be sure that the full economic impact of the proposed cuts is taken into account when the bill is debated. Consequently, we ask that you include in any CBO analysis of this legislation an estimate of the changes in economic output and employment that can be expected to result from these SNAP cuts. 

In addition, we ask that you include in your analysis estimates of the impact of these cuts on beneficiaries, i.e. the extent to which individuals and families will see their benefits reduced and how many individuals would lose their benefits altogether.

Having CBO-verified information on this subject would help Congress to fully understand the impact of this bill. Thank you for your attention to this request. 


Mark Pocan                                                                   Steny Hoyer
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

Rosa DeLauro                                                                  James P. McGovern
Member of Congress                                                Member of Congress