Heidi Heitkamp Just Can’t Seem To Tell The Truth About Food Stamps

Heidi Heitkamp

In a guest column for the Grand Forks Herald yesterday, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp invoked her political party’s favorite buzz word and accused House Republicans of “extreme” cuts to food stamps.

Here’s the thrust of Heitkamp’s argument supporting that “extreme” label:

Let’s be clear about who’s trying to pull the rug out from under low-income families. The House Republicans’ Farm Bill slashed $40 billion from SNAP. It would kick nearly 4 million Americans off the program — including working parents, children, seniors, veterans and disabled Americans — and 210,000 children would lose school lunches.

The problem is that Heitkamp isn’t being accurate.

The $40 billion “slashed” from the food stamps program is just a projection. Congress doesn’t appropriate a specific dollar amount for food stamps. They administer the qualifications from the program, and from that is extrapolated an estimated cost of the program.

The $40 billion in “cuts” Heitkamp is talking about actually result in changes in who is qualified for the program, which the New York Times describes:

[The House food stamps bill] would…require adults between 18 and 50 without minor children to find a job or to enroll in a work training program in order to receive benefits. It would also limit the time those recipients could get benefits to three months.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly four million people would be removed from the food stamp program under the House bill.

So, yes, there would be a $40 billion cost reduction over 10 years and four million fewer people would qualify for the program. But these would be people without children, and they’d only be disqualified if they refused to look for work or get training while receiving food stamps.

There would also be a time limit for food stamps enrollments for these people without children.

SNAP-participantsI think most North Dakotans would agree that these are probably pretty reasonable changes Also ending would be categorical enrollments through which states can automatically enroll for food stamps any person receiving even a dollar of assistance from another state program. These people could still get food stamps, but only under the federal guidelines.

Again, a pretty reasonable reform, especially given that enrollment in the food stamps programs has come pretty close to doubling since 2006, going from about 25 million to more than 47 million enrollees.

What’s frustrating is that Senator Heitkamp campaigned against this exact sort of partisan hyperbole. She told North Dakotans in her campaign statements and advertising that she was going to bring an end to the sort of politics that has one side accusing the other of wanting to starve little children.

I guess Heitkamp’s campaign promises had an expiration date.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • del

    Heidi is a communist. The only thing she can do is lie and distort the truth. If she told the truth she would be unelectable.

    • brain trust

      Plus she knows that the MSM will never check her facts.

  • SusanBeehler

    Maybe Rob Port simply cannot tell the truth about food stamps. I see you use the source of cbpp.org as source for increase of use in food stamps but failed to show what else your source has to say:

    November 1 SNAP Cuts Will Affect Millions of Children, Seniors, and People With Disabilities

    The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ends on November 1, 2013, which will mean a benefit cut for each of the nearly 48 million SNAP recipients — 87 percent of whom live in households with children, seniors, or people with disabilities. House and Senate members who are now beginning to negotiate a final Farm Bill should keep this benefit cut in mind as they consider, in reauthorizing the SNAP program, whether to make even deeper cuts. Read more at http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4036

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      But they’re wrong.

      The only families with children impacted would be those who are eligible through categorical state enrollments and not federal qualifications.

      These families would still absolutely be eligible directly through the federal government. If they don’t qualify that way – and its really a very low threshold – they probably don’t really need the benefits.

      • Dakotacyr

        please provide the source for your statement about categorical state enrollments versus federal qualifications.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      But I would like to hear you explain, in your own words, why the Republican reforms for food stamps are so unreasonable.

      Are work requirements, the cornerstone of the success of Clinton-era welfare reforms, extremism now in the Obama era?

      Is closing a loophole allowing states to get around federal standards for this program unreasonable?

      • whowon

        When more people are on federal ad then those working never seems to make any sense to Susan. We have jobs everywhere here, they don’t want those jobs when the government will take care of them. The ethics that people in our country use to have seems to be gone. Not for all of us but for many. So sad.

      • shakenbake

        Let’s first remember the only reason Susan voted for Heidi. Heidi’s a woman. We need more women in government/congress/legislature. Be damned what they stand for. Susan appears to be very ignorant and a racist.

    • whowon

      SNAP Cuts Will Affect Millions of Children, Seniors, and People With Disabilities..OMG you are drinking the kool-aid.

  • kevindf

    Heitkamp wouldn’t lie; would she?

  • Roy_Bean

    Apparently Heidi didn’t care enough about senior veterans to take down the Barrycades (credit to Michelle Malkin) at the WW2 and Vietnam memorials.

  • robertwetsch

    The proposed senate farm bill increases SNAP (food stamp) spending by 67% over the next 10 years. The proposed house farm bill increases SNAP spending by 38% over the next 10 years. So where are the cuts? Washingtonspeak.

  • yy4u2

    Why is it the only reform these days for Democrats is more money to bad programs?

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