White House slams GOP's proposed food stamp cuts

The White House is marking Thanksgiving by rallying opposition to a House GOP proposal cutting food stamp funding by $40 billion.

In a new report, the White House argues the bill would cut off 4 million Americans from the support next year. In addition, it said 210,000 children would lose free school meals because of the cuts.

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White House spokesman Matt Lehrich called the report a “reminder, as we hit Thanksgiving, it's not the time to make it harder to put food on the table.”

Republicans argue the food stamp program is bloated because of the recession and badly in need of reform. They say it has doubled in size under the Obama administration.

“There's no denying that SNAP provides important support for many Americans who are struggling,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). “It serves a noble purpose to help you when you hit bottom. But it's not meant to keep you at the bottom.”

The $40 billion in cuts proposed by House Republicans come after an $11 billion reduction to the program earlier this month, when emergency benefits implemented because of the recession were allowed to lapse. The cut resulted in the loss of about $11 per recipient every month.

Senate Democrats have passed a farm bill that includes $4 billion in food stamp cuts, leaving a $36 billion difference for the sides to reconcile.

The House farm bill also limits automatic eligibility for food stamps, and eliminates states’ options on seeking a wavier for adults who must participate in a job training program or work to receive extended SNAP benefits.

The White House argues the food stamps reduce poverty, noting Census statistics that show it cut child poverty by 3 percent in 2012.

The White House also argues that the program is “efficient and effective,” saying overhead is low and payment accuracy is at its highest in history.

Organizing for Action, the political group founded from the president's reelection campaign, is also looking to rally its supporters against the proposed cut. In an email on Monday, OFA's director of special projects, Nico Probst, emailed supporters calling the Republican proposal “mean spirited.”

“Thanksgiving is a powerful reminder of just how cruel these budget cuts are to families in need,” Probst said.