Aid cuts reignite minimum wage debate


Last November, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, was cut by $5 billion, according to a Huffington Post article published on Jan. 31 titled

“Food Stamp Cuts so Devastating Even Walmart is Too Expensive.”

The cut came around the holidays, affecting 47 million Americans, including veterans, who depend on the extra aid, according to the article.

This year, a farm bill cutting another $800 million from the program cleared the House of Representatives 251-166, according to an article from The Washington Post dated Jan. 29 titled “Farm Bill Passes House After Years of Disagreement.”

SNAP covers one in seven Americans and currently costs around $80 billion.

The $800 million cut is only 1 percent of that. Republicans wanted it to be cut by 5 percent, or $4 billion.

The cut is so that legislation can continue to subsidize crops for our nation’s farmers.

This will only go into effect if it’s also approved by the Senate and then approved by the President Barack Obama.

Obama is expected to pass it.

On January 28, Obama gave his State of the Union Address. He touched upon many topics including equal pay for women, the Affordable Care Act and the threat of chemical weapons in Syria.

During his address, there was no mention of anything related to the farm bill and SNAP cuts.

He only urged businesses to pay employees more and said he is pushing Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Realistically, the only way to cut down on the cost of SNAP is to get people off the program by raising the minimum wage so they can lead more independent lives.

A study done by the Center for Poverty at the University of Kentucky found low-wage jobs with SNAP supplement is more common for the working poor, according to another Huffington Post article, published on Jan. 27 titled “The New Face of Food Stamps: Working-Age Americans.”

The study found that more than 50 percent of people participating in the SNAP program are between the ages 18-59.

In regards to education, 28 percent of households receiving SNAP are headed by a person with some college training — up 8 percent since the 1980s.

People with four-year college degrees make up 7 percent, up from 3 percent. People with only a high school diploma make up the majority at 37 percent, up 9 percent.

High school dropouts only make up 28 percent of SNAP-receiving households, half of that in the 1980s.

The only largely unchanged statistic since the 1980s is that an unemployed person heads 53 percent of SNAP households.

From these statistics we can gather that at least half the citizens on SNAP are employed.

Many are even pursuing higher education.

“Those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. Massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on,” said Obama in his State of the Union Address.

The problem isn’t the people, the problem is the system.

In order for these problems to be fixed, working Americans need to stay in school to further their education.

And minimum wage needs to be raised for the average Americans to be able to support themselves and their families.