by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Heritage Foundation challenged House Republicans’ proposed reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in a new report, arguing that the bill doesn’t go far enough in getting Americans back to work.
Introduced with the 2018 agriculture bill, the reforms establish an expanded work requirement for SNAP recipients. Under new rules, able-bodied SNAP recipients who are between ages 18 and 59 and who do not have a dependent under six would be obliged to spend 20 hours a week working, training, or looking for work.
Using survey data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Heritage estimated that of the 15.2 million able-bodied adults currently on the SNAP rolls, only 2.1 million will go to work under reforms. That estimate is substantial lower than that found by others: the Free Beacon’s analysis of statistics published by the Foundation for Government Accountability estimated that at least 4.5 million will need to work, the FGA itself found 7.8 million using the same data as Heritage, while the Congressional Budget Office predicted between 5 and 7 million would be added.
The discrepancy between these estimates and Heritage’s estimate is in large part due to the Heritage report’s argument that state-level waivers for SNAP will persist more or less unchanged after the bill is passed, as well as the report’s assumption that states will take maximal advantage of the 15 percent discretionary exemption they are afforded.