Ryan Budget Looks To SNAP For Savings

House Republican plan for a balanced budget sets sights on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, farm bill program reform

Published on: Mar 13, 2013

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Tuesday introduced House Republicans' latest fiscal plan for FY2014 that promises to curb spending and balance the budget within 10 years.

Ryan's plans include energy, health care, tax and welfare reform, as well as adjusted farm supports and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program structure.

The budget does not dictate specific changes to farm programs under the House Agriculture Committee's jurisdiction, rather asks that current farm supports, such as fixed payments and crop insurance programs, be altered to "reflect economic realities."

House plan for a balanced budget sets sights on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, farm bill program reform
House plan for a balanced budget sets sights on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, farm bill program reform

According to budget text, Ryan projects that the reforms will save taxpayers $31 billion.

Additionally, Ryan said the SNAP program suffers from a "flawed structure." Budget text estimates that the current cost of the program is about $80 billion – representing an increase of 12.5% per year since 2003. Likewise, the number of recipients have grown to 46 million currently, an increase from 17 million in 2001.

"States receive more money if they enroll more people in the program—so their incentive is to get people onto the rolls. They have little incentive to help people get off the rolls and find work. In fact, these programs make it harder to become independent," the budget plan said.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman and Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas supported Ryan's plan, noting in a press statement that the ag committee "remains committed to being a part of the solution in addressing our nation's debt crisis."

Lucas said last year's farm bill, which offered an estimated $35 billion in taxpayer savings – though the Congressional Budget Office recently adjusted that number to $26 billion – is an indication that the committee will continue to work on another bill that will again curb spending.

"We will consider the suggestions contained in Chairman Ryan's budget, as is customary for the Agriculture Committee to consider a variety of viewpoints when crafting comprehensive legislation," Lucas said.

But House Democrat and Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson wasn't as welcoming. In a statement released Tuesday, Peterson said the budget was more representative of a "political messaging document."

"The American people are tired of political games. It's time to get serious," Peterson said.  "The House Agriculture Committee has repeatedly shown that it is possible to work together to find budget savings in a bipartisan fashion by making balanced cuts across farm bill programs. It wasn't an easy process but we did it because that's our job.

"If the House Republicans do take the Ryan budget numbers seriously, I don't see how they can be serious about passing long-term farm policy this year. If these are the budget priorities for the House Majority, agriculture might best be served by again extending the current farm bill," Peterson said.

Click here to read the latest budget proposal.