This editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News.
We get the picture that Washington is one beat-up town after its brutal budget fight.
But politicians in the White House and on Capitol Hill can’t wait for wounds to heal. They must get on with the nation’s business.
President Barack Obama said as much this month when he noted that Capitol Hill has yet to renew the farm bill. The legislation governing the agricultural industry expired Sept. 30. Farmers and ranchers will remain in limbo until legislators renew the five-year legislation, which affects everything from crop production to water conservation to food stamps.
It’s the food stamps piece that has gummed things up. The House voted last month to cut $40 billion over 10 years from food stamp spending. The Senate prefers a $4.5 billion reduction over the next decade.
The Senate has it right. Undoubtedly, there are ways to wrangle savings out of the food stamp budget, which has doubled since the economy tanked in 2007. The number of recipients has jumped from 26 million in 2007 to 47 million in 2012.
But taking $40 billion out of food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, would hammer deserving families. The Congressional Budget Office reports that most beneficiaries are children, the disabled or those over 60 years of age.
What’s more, the independent nonpartisan organization has determined that the anemic economy is the major reason that food stamp spending has increased since 2007. Here is the CBO’s most important point: Food stamp costs are projected to decline as the economy keeps recovering. A Harvard University study reached similar conclusions.
The Senate has the best plan for food stamps funding, and Congress needs to get on with renewing this legislation.