A House bill introduced this month would nearly double previously proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). The bill is scheduled to come to a vote Thursday.
Harris said during a CNN interview that cutting food stamp spending by half was actually just "a five percent decrease, when we know that there is 10.5 percent of the stores that take food stamps are engaged in trafficking."
“So we know the fraud stands at 10 percent of the stores. We only want to cut 5 percent. That ought to leave more money getting to the hands of the people who do need it,” he added. "And there are millions of Americans who need that benefit."
But Harris doesn't address fraud perpetrated by store owners accepting food stamps, rather, he says individuals receiving benefits should adhere to stricter requirements.
“Well, again, there’s the one study that showed -- by the Dept. of Agriculture -- 10.5 percent of stores are committing fraud,” Harris insisted. "And, you know what we’re doing, is we’re just saying, ‘Look, if we’re going to help you with food stamps -- and we are -- then we need you to either work, look for employment -- if you’re able bodied, not disabled and able to work -- either look for work or engage in job training.’ We think that’s a common-sense trade-off for getting help from the American taxpayer that needy people need.”
Critics of the GOP cuts say changing requirements will eliminate benefits for people who need them, as poverty is still at 13 percent. CNN’s Carol Costello pointed out to Harris that there aren’t that many jobs available at this particular time in our economy to accomplish that.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that 14 million fewer people would be participating in SNAP by 2023 if the Republican House bill was enacted.
But critics say the image of food stamp recipients who choose to remain unemployed to receive benefits is a fantasy.
The majority of SNAP households with an adult who is not elderly or disabled work while they receive assistance, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. "More than 80 percent of such households work in the year before or after SNAP receipt."