NC Budget and Tax Center

U.S. House pays for increased defense spending by cutting food stamps

During last summer’s hard-won debt deal, President Obama and Congressional leaders agreed to a set of spending cuts designed to reduce the Federal budget deficit, including a $54.7 billion reduction in defense spending for FY2013.

Nine months later, however, leaders in the U.S. House are set to renege on this agreement by reversing the scheduled defense cuts and making up the resulting short-fall by making an additional $34 billion cut over the next ten years to the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—otherwise known as food stamps—a program that was explicitly exempted from the spending cuts outlined in the original debt deal due to their disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable.

These cuts will prove devastating to low- and moderate-income families that rely on this assistance to adequately feed their families.  As Politico reports:

“An average family of four would face an 11 percent cut in monthly benefits after Sept. 1 and, even more important, tighter enforcement of rules would require that households exhaust most of their liquid assets before qualifying for help. This hits hardest among the long-term unemployed, who would be forced off the rolls until they have spent down their savings to less than $2,000 in many cases.”

In North Carolina, food stamps—or called Food & Nutrition Services here—have been a vital lifeline for families during the Great Recession and the ensuing weak recovery.  As a Budget & Tax Center brief shows, the number of individuals receiving food stamps has nearly doubled since December 2007 or the start of the recession.  As of February 2012, over 1.6 million—or nearly 1 in 5–North Carolinians are receiving a modest food stamp benefit to feed themselves and their families.  Meanwhile, hunger continues to rise in the state and 1 in 4 children are in poverty.

Along with these reductions in SNAP, legislation moving through the House Ways & Means Committee will also cut an additional $20 billion from an array of other important safety net programs, including the Child Tax Credit and the Social Services Block Grant, a program that provides funding to local and state governments to provide social assistance to low- and middle income families.

Louisa Warren contributed to this report.


  1. david esmay

    April 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    The repub plan, propose cuts and then oppose the cuts they proposed. Apparently General Dynamics and Haliburton didn’t like the cuts.

  2. Edward

    April 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I’ll miss that child tax credit if they cut it. That was an easy $1500 for us. What’s next? The return of the Alternative Min. Tax?

  3. taxed enough

    April 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    We should drastically cut back or stop the 70 means tested income transfer programs to the so-called poor and low income. Since the mid 1960s those giveaways have cost the taxpayers $16 Trillion and we have more poor and low income now than we did then and we are $15 Trillion in debt. The giveaways did not work, all they did was create a multi-generational crowd of “gimmie” people who expect every bad decision they make to be paid for by somebody else.
    Drop out of high school and now can’t get a decent job – gimmie benefits.
    Have kids you can’t afford – gimmie benefits.
    Never even considered buying health insurance and now you are sick – gimmie benefits.
    Turned your brains into mush with drugs and booze and you are now useless – gimmie benefits.
    There are plenty who support these failed giveaway programs – the welfare-industrial complex, the Welfare Advocates, poverty pimps, the breeding couples.

  4. John

    April 21, 2012 at 7:48 am

    When the country needs money it takes away from the poor? Am I missing something here?

  5. Doug

    April 21, 2012 at 8:12 am

    The biggest problem with poverty programs is separating the truly needy from the deadbeats. All of the druggies, deadbeats,single moms with multiple babies,etc. are more than glad to get on the government dole to sustain their lifestyle. This group chooses to be poor through bad decisions and lack of initiative. As most intelligent people now realize, we can’t spend our way out of poverty, or we’ll eventually go broke.

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