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CBO: Food stamp cuts would hit poorest the hardest

Rolling back federal spending on food stamps would hit those at the very bottom of the income ladder the hardest, according to a new study from the Congressional Budget Office.

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The CBO examined three separate options for cutting food stamp spending by 15 percent in 2016 — or slicing roughly $11.5 billion from the $77 billion currently projected to be spent on food stamps that year.

The budget scorekeeper found that families making under $15,000 would receive $600 less a year in food stamps if the maximum benefit was capped. More targeted options — reducing the income threshold needed to qualify for food stamps, or how quickly benefits decline for higher income — would have less of an impact on the poorest recipients.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who had asked the CBO to examine the issue, said the report showed just how harmful food stamp cuts would be. Congressional Republicans are expected to roll out budgets this week that would reduce food stamp spending.

"We cannot continue attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable while providing giveaways to the richest amongst us," Lee said in a statement.

Families eligible for food stamps that make more than $15,000 a year would see a smaller percentage of their annual income taken away by food stamp cuts, the CBO found. 

Those making between $15,000 and $25,000 a year would see reductions equal to roughly 1 percent to 3 percent. Families making between $25,000 and $32,000 would, on average, see a decline of less than $1,000.