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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Representative Steve Southerland Wants to Cut Food Stamps by an Amount Equal to 0.086 Percent of Federal Spending

Representative Steve Southerland Wants to Cut Food Stamps by an Amount Equal to 0.086 Percent of Federal Spending

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013 05:41

The Washington Post had a lengthy article on Florida Representative Steve Southerland's efforts to cut food stamp spending by $40 billion over the next decade. Since it never put this figure in any context, many readers may have mistakenly been led to believe that there is real money at stake.

While this proposed cut may make a huge difference to the affected population, it will have no noticeable impact on the federal budget. 

Comments (7)Add Comment
Cultural Shifts in Moral Values Don't Depend on Percentages
written by Last Mover, September 25, 2013 8:41

Aside from the Christianic militarism that appears in this article, consider this:

"What we are fighting for is a cultural shift," Southerland told his colleagues on the bus. "The explosion of food stamps in this country is not just a fiscal issue for me. This is a defining moral issue of our time."


How much dumb-as-dirt ignorance does it take to deny that the spike in food stamps is directly related to the great recession by converting it into a morally redeemable "fiscal" issue?

Imagine Southerland, like Dubya Dimwit, visiting New Orleans to review the damage from hurricane Katrina:

"What we are fighting for is a cultural shift," Southerland told his colleagues on the bus. The explosion of food stamps flood waters in this country is not just a fiscal weatherissue for me. This is a defining moral issue of our time."

Of course Representative Southerland would be correct in each case wouldn't he, food stamps with a trivial percentage or weather with a significant percentage.

After all, it's about cultural shifts of moral values isn't it. It's certainly not about economics and the weather. No way.
...
written by Bloix, September 25, 2013 9:37
Note that the Post article begins by talking about Southerland's efforts to "overhaul" the food stamp program. It doesn't clearly explain that he wants to cut it until after the jump.
small numbers add up
written by tew, September 25, 2013 2:30
Your response (headline) is an illustration of bad reasoning in the face of incremental changes. Nearly ALL changes are small, yet they add up. If you found 100 items that trimmed 0.086% of spending that would result in an 8.6% spending reduction.

There are rarely opportunities for single, large spending reductions. So it really depends on how we mentally package reductions. For example, perhaps we could say that we could reduce military spending for a 2% reduction in total spending. That 2% reduction will in fact be comprised of many sub-1% reductions within the military. All of them will look small on their own.

Note: I am NOT defending the proposed decrease in food stamps.
...
written by MS, September 25, 2013 3:14
Shouldn't readers also be advised of how widespread the effects of the cut would be? For example, the cut would affect about one percent of Americans. Or, if implemented, the cut would have no noticeable effect on 99 percent of U.S. citizens.
Wrong assumption
written by jjmsan, September 25, 2013 6:12
It may only have a direct effect on the people losing benefits, but people being hungry has indirect effects on more than that. Increase in panhandling, higher use of private food banks decrease learning in school. All of those would effect me even though I do not get food stamps.
100 paper cuts
written by squeezed turnip, September 25, 2013 7:33
small numbers add up
written by tew, September 25, 2013 1:30
Your response (headline) is an illustration of bad reasoning in the face of incremental changes. Nearly ALL changes are small, yet they add up. If you found 100 items that trimmed 0.086% of spending that would result in an 8.6% spending reduction.


Yes, but Southerland is not targeting 100 different minuscule cuts in order to achieve an overall larger cut. He just wants people to starve, since the government teat is only big enough for the likes of Southerland. He'd rather feed the trillions of microbes and viruses that inform his gut feelings that over-ride rational thought than feed the poor underfed, uninsured kids here in Texas. That's the type of morality that Southerland doesn't take issue with, which just shows what a vapid, vacant, vicious soul he has. Maybe he should do like Rick Perry and start wearing glasses so that plain folks mistake him for somebody intelligent or somebody with good intentions.
Well marbled fat.
written by Jim A., September 26, 2013 8:33
Certainly 100 cuts of .086% would add up. Fighting for this cut exposes the lie that it is easy to "cut fraud, waste and abuse." There certainly is plenty of fat in the Federal Government, but like a nice steak, it is for the most part "well marbled," in thin streaks that are difficult to cut. One has to think the fact that he is concentrating on this particular cut has more to do with the fact that those it affects are politically under-influential rather than how effective the program is.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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