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CBO Projects Even Bigger Drop in SNAP Spending

April 28, 2014 at 11:25 AM

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which has consistently predicted that SNAP (food stamp) spending will fall over the next decade, now predicts that it will fall even faster.

In updating its February projections, CBO lowered its estimate of total SNAP spending over the next ten years by about $24 billion for "technical" reasons -- primarily because CBO has cut its estimate of the average benefit per person (now about $1.40 per person per meal) -- and by another $8 billion due to the SNAP cuts in the Farm Bill enacted in February. The total reduction rounds to $33 billion over the 2015-2024 decade.

These estimates are just the latest evidence disproving claims that SNAP is growing out of control.

Under CBO's new projections, annual SNAP costs will fall from $83 billion in fiscal year 2013 to $71 billion in fiscal year 2024, a drop of 32 percent after adjusting for inflation. SNAP spending is also falling as a share of gross domestic product (GDP). CBO expects it to return to 1995 levels as a share of GDP by 2019 (see chart).

The main reasons for the decline are the recovering economy, which has already begun to shrink SNAP caseloads, and last November's expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act's benefit increase.