Iowa to spend millions kicking families off food stamps. - Washington Post
Thousands of Iowa residents are expected to lose Medicaid and food stamp benefits - ABC News
"Food banks in the state say they are already facing a surge in demand and the legislation will only exacerbate that... the Republican supermajority, was poised to approve some of the nation’s harshest restrictions on SNAP. They include asset tests and new eligibility guidelines. By the state’s own estimate, Iowa will need to spend nearly $18 million in administrative costs during the first three years — to take in less federal money."
Nearly 270,000 Iowans were receiving food stamps through the program. But many residents were still struggling to eat... dozens of rural small-town pantries and off-the-truck distributions. The lines were long, and they had been getting longer over the past year. Iowa ended 2022 with a general-fund budget surplus of $1.91 billion."
Why do Republicans with a budget surplus cut food stamps (SNAP) and Medicaid for those most in need? Who drafted the legislation to cut benefits? Who paid the lobbyists to push these cruel cuts? Follow the money for answers.
Thousands of Iowa residents to be hurt
Thousands of Iowa residents would be expected to lose Medicaid and food stamp benefits under a bill given final legislative approval sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds. The state House approved the bill, which would according to ABC News :
- Change eligibility requirements and require more checks that people qualify for benefits
- Removal of an estimated 1% of recipients
- Analysis found that 1% would translate to the removal of about 8,000 Medicaid recipients
- 2,800 recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps
High percentage of the program's recipients are children and disabled people
Democrats had argued the bill would remove qualified recipients and create more barriers for Iowans who already are struggling with high food and housing costs. They focused on cuts to SNAP and noted that a high percentage of the program's recipients are children and disabled people. “This bill will remove people from SNAP due to discrepancies,” said Democratic Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell. “Imagine, children losing food because their parents invert some numbers or put the wrong information in the wrong column.”
Democrats also pointed to a legislative analysis that estimated the changes would result in a loss of $42 million in federal funding in Iowa by 2027. The bill would not allow SNAP benefits to any household with more than $15,000 in liquid assets and personal property. An applicant's home as well as one car of any value and a second car of less than $10,000 value would not be included in that cap. The measure is a change from current law, which has income caps but no restriction on assets. - ABC News
Hunger stalks Iowa
"The additional administrative hurdles in these bills will remove people from SNAP even when they’re eligible to receive benefits. Instituting an asset test and additional eligibility verification checks will remove people from the program who struggle to meet the new requirements and discourage people from applying for public assistance programs like SNAP. These bills will only increase SNAP administrative costs to the state. SNAP benefits are 100% federally funded, and the state has a 50-50 cost share on administrative costs, which have remained stable for over 10 years.
SNAP enrollment in Iowa is currently at a 14-year low, while food banks and food pantries across the state are breaking all-time records. Iowa should be exploring ways to improve access to SNAP, such as increasing the income eligibility for SNAP from 160% to 200% of the federal poverty level, and investing in the Double Up Food Bucks program. These bills are a step in the wrong direction for Iowa.
Establishing an asset limit for SNAP. Households would face a limit of $15,000 in assets. The value of a household’s primary residence, retirement accounts, and one vehicle would be excluded, as well as $10,000 in fair market value of a second vehicle. Even children’s savings accounts would count toward the asset limit for the household." - Iowa Hunger Coalition
Learn more about SNAP
Where can you spend Food Stamp benefits
Find out about food banks / Feeding America
Find a foodbank in Iowa
Republicans: Party of the rich. By The Rich. For the Rich.
The Iowa plan to cut SNAP food stamps "biggest proponent was the Opportunity Solutions Project, a Florida think tank that has successfully shepherded similar bills through other statehouses. According to OpenSecret, the group had registered 57 active lobbyists in 22 states in 2022.
Superdonors such as Charles Koch and the DeVos family: The OSP is the lobbying arm of the Foundation for Government Accountability. Both groups are run by Maine state legislator Tarren Bragdon, who started the FGA in 2011 with three employees and less than $60,000 in the group’s bank account. According to tax records, that money was a grant from the State Policy Network, a major funder for right-wing think tanks and organizations that has been linked to conservative superdonors such as Charles Koch and the DeVos family. OSP did not respond to calls for comment." - WaPo
TakeAway: Elections have consequences. Your family could go hungry. Next time, vote for a Democrat.
Image credit: Dorothy Lange
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