Jay Carney: Food Stamps are the ‘Most Effective Way to Combat Hunger and Food Insecurity’

Anticipating what Democrats have already called the “food stamp cliff” reduction in benefits to take effect on Nov. 1, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that food stamps are “the most effective way of to combat hunger” and accused House Republicans of wanting to “punish” people who receive them.

He was also clear that the Obama administration wants Americans receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to be able to get off the program the right way by reaching a better economic condition.

The “food stamp cliff” is the expiration of the temporary increase in SNAP funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus act. Without an increase, a single adult’s benefits will reportedly be cut by $11 a month to a total of $189.

Jay Carney
White House press secretary Jay Carney, wearing a cap of the World Series baseball champion Boston Red Sox, arrives for the daily press briefing a the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. (AP)

“These cuts come at a time when many hardworking American families are still struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the worst recession in decades and last year the additional resources provided by the SNAP lifted 7 million people out of poverty,” Carney said. “That is why the president acknowledged this need when he proposed an extension of the recovery act adjustment through 2014 or until March 2014 in his 2014 budget request and why the strategy currently under way in the House to reduce SNAP by removing millions of low income families from the program does not make sense.”

Carney added, “We’re committed reducing the number of Americans who need SNAP, the right way by arming recipients with the skills they need to enter the workforce, earn the income they need to support a family and ultimately come off the program.”

Speaking about the importance of the program, he continued: “SNAP is the most effective way of to combat hunger and food insecurity, particularly as food banks are telling us that they are already struggling to meeting the needs in their communities.”

In August, the House separated food stamp funding from the farm bill.

“This goes to a broader effort to pass a comprehensive farm bill,” Carney continued. “The Senate has done it. The House, in the aforementioned action, broke years and years of precedent and separated out elements of the farm bill that had always been together. And essentially did so in order to punish millions of Americans who depend on this assistance and that is absolutely the wrong approach to the problem that you’ve identified.