This interesting article in Politico discusses ongoing discussions and challenges in the debate over the size and composition of food assistance programs that are typically bundled into the farm bill. There questions over waivers, work requirements, the size of cuts, and many more:
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) is being asked to defend a Republican plan to permanently repeal waivers allowing able-bodied, jobless adults to continue to get aid in periods of high unemployment. Yet back home in Oklahoma, his own state already passed a law ending its waiver effective last month—without requiring any action by Congress.
Then there are fights over work requirements:
Not waiting for Washington, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is pushing ahead with a plan to cut off food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents who fail to work at least 20 hours a week.
Given the nature of the partisan fighting (and infighting), I thought I'd go back to the survey we conducted last month where we asked people whether they supported or opposed various changes to the food stamps programs (more details on that are here).
In particular, I wanted to break down the results to look at the partisan divide to see which issues Republicans and Democrats were in most and least agreement. Here is the breakdown (the figures are the % that agree with the change).
I've highlighted in red those issues with the most disagreement between Rep and Dems (typically at 25-35% difference in support) and those in green where there is most agreement (typically less than a 10% difference in in support). The biggest disagreements, not surprisingly, have to do with size of cuts. Almost 60% of Republicans and almost 70% of Tea Party identifiers support cutting food stamps by $39 billion; only 29% of Democrats support that move. Large majorities of Republicans and Democrats (81% and 72%) supported separating food stamps from the farm bill.
Also out of curiosity, I was interested in the difference in the general public and those who are on or who have ever previously been on food stamps. Here is that breakdown.
The biggest disagreements are about the length of time one can stay on food stamps and the size of the cuts. The most agreement is on splitting the farm bill and food stamps and on eliminating certain eligibility rules.