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Pocan Opposes $40 Billion Cuts that Would Kick 150,000 in Wisconsin off of Food Stamps

Sep 19, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) today will vote against Republican legislation that would deny food assistance benefits for approximately 150,000 of Wisconsin’s poorest citizens, including children, seniors and veterans. The legislation cuts nearly $40 billion from the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers a vital lifeline to Americans struggling to get back on their feet in this downturn economy.  Ninety-two percent of people on SNAP are children, the elderly, disabled, or already working.

According to statistics from the Hunger Task Force, the bill would deny benefits to approximately 150,000 Wisconsinites, put 4,000 Wisconsin kids at risk of losing access to free/reduced meals, and result in the loss of an estimated $170 million to the Wisconsin economy just next year. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis earlier this week reporting that the legislation would kick nearly four million people nationally off the food stamp program.

“This extreme legislation forces more Wisconsinites into hunger while putting less money into our economy,” Pocan said. “The close to $40 billion worth of cuts would take food off the tables of 150,000 Wisconsinites struggling to support themselves and their families. If Republicans really want to shrink the food stamp program, they should focus on policies that will put people back to work, instead of bills that just leave more children, veterans and seniors hungry.”

The bill contains a number of provisions that ignore the reality that many Wisconsinites continue to struggle with the state’s unemployment rate at 6.8 percent.  For example, the bill would end governors’ ability to waive SNAP’s harsh time limit for people looking for work in time of high unemployment, a waiver Wisconsin has requested the past ten years.  

Earlier this week, Pocan sent a letter to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf asking the CBO to include the impact of these cuts on economic growth and jobs.  Estimates from the Center for American Progress indicate that these cuts would result in the loss of nearly 55,000 jobs just next year.

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.