House Budget Committee advances FY 2015 budget plan with SNAP cuts

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 - The House Budget Committee approved, on a 22-16 party-line vote, a fiscal year 2015 budget proposal late Wednesday that aims to reduce federal spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years and includes spending cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and mandatory agricultural outlays, as well as policy recommendations on EPA regulations.

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Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said his budget lays out a “long-term vision for the country that will grow the economy and create jobs.” “And it will stop spending money we don't have,” Ryan said, noting the full House is expected to consider the bill next week.
The bill proposes to cut $125 billion from the SNAP program as well as to cut $23 billion from mandatory agricultural outlays, which could include reductions to crop insurance.

Most of the overall bill savings would come from a repeal of President Obama's health care law, changes to Medicare benefits for retirees, and targeting “wasteful” spending in a myriad of government agencies, Ryan said.
The proposal is not expected to gain any traction in the Senate, and the White House and Democrats were quick to pan Ryan's proposal, saying it would benefit wealthy individuals, while squeezing out the middle class.  

While the budget plan does not list specific funding amounts for departments, it does offer policy recommendations on several examples of “unnecessary and wasteful spending.” Since 2009, the White House has generated over $494 billion in regulatory activity, with an additional $87.6 billion in regulatory costs currently pending, according to Ryan.  

The highest regulatory costs, the plan said, come from rules issued by EPA that are “primarily targeted at the coal industry.” The plan said a proposed 2013 rule seeking to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants are “unachievable” and would result in a de-facto ban on new coal-fired power plants. The proposal also criticized an estimated $15 billion spent in FY 2010 on about 670 renewable energy initiatives. 

For SNAP, the budget proposal recommends converting the federal program into a state grant program “tailored to meet each state's needs” to reduce spending by about $125 billion. “This option would make no changes to SNAP until 2019 - after employment has recovered - providing states with time to structure their own programs,” the proposal said. “It would also envision improving work incentives by requiring a certain amount of people to engage in work activity, such as job search, community-service activities, and education and job training.”

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., has said the proposal is “more of the same” favoring political messaging over results.

The proposal further calls for a reduction of $23 billion to mandatory agricultural outlays, other than food and nutrition programs, by “continuing to reform assistance programs for agriculture.”

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