On Monday, the Biden administration announced that the federal food stamp program would be getting hefty increase. In fact, it is the largest boost to the program in its history.
An anonymous official told Bloomberg that benefits for the average recipient will increase by more than 25%, effecting roughly 42 million Americans currently enrolled in the program.
According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the boost in welfare means that program will cost an additional $20 billion annually.
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Vilsack put much of the reason for the increase on the pandemic.
“I think the pandemic sort of shocked people out of the belief that this is a program that was for some others, somebody else, I would never be involved in the SNAP program. All the sudden we found families either in need of SNAP or in need of the food bank pantry system that never in a million years thought that they would be faced with that situation.”
At the root of the new plan is something called “The Thrifty Food Plan,” which is similar to the way the Consumer Price Index works – essentially, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses a model shopping list to determine that the costs for average families would be.
Benefits for a family of four will reportedly increase to $835 per month. This is a 21% increase from pre-pandemic levels, and a 27% increase for adjusted inflation.
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Congressional Republicans have concerns about the move by the Biden administration, including that the increase is part of Biden economic plan that is not only fueling inflation, but it is also disincentivizing Americans to return to work.
Ranking House and Senate Agriculture Committee members Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and John Boozman (R-AR), called on the Government Accountability Office to review the administration’s process for updating the plan that determines how benefits are calculated.
Other GOP members have requested information about the update for months but have voiced dissatisfaction by what they say is a lack of transparency about the revision.
Sec. Vilsack responded to Republican concerns in statement to Politico, “As directed by the 2018 Farm Bill passed by a Republican-led Congress, the Department of Agriculture conducted a scientifically rigorous and data-driven review of the Thrifty Food Plan. We will release the results of that review soon and will be prepared to brief members of Congress interested in the results.”
The overhaul of the food stamp program comes on the heels of some of the most massive government spending bills in history – like the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package and $3.5 trillion budget resolution bill that are currently on the table.
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