Ryan Budget Would Slash SNAP Funding by $134 Billion Over Ten Years
Low-Income Households in All States Would Feel Sharp Effects
 House Budget Committee staff provided this figure verbally in response to a question from Rep. Chris Van Hollen during the mark-up of the proposed budget resolution on March 21, 2012.
 House Budget Committee, The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal, March 20, 2012, page 39. During the mark-up, House Budget Committee staff mentioned two policies in addition to the block grant: “expanded categorical eligibility” and “heat and eat.” These would yield a very small share of the $133.5 billion in savings, as they would be in effect only for fiscal years 2013 through 2015. By 2016, the block grant presumably would supersede these policies.
 The Ryan budget plan also assigns $33 billion in cuts to the Agriculture Committee under “reconciliation instructions,” and it is not clear whether the $133.5 billion in SNAP cuts includes some of this $33 billion. The total SNAP cuts under the Ryan plan could be somewhat deeper than $133.5 billion if the Agriculture Committee sought to achieve cuts toward its $33 billion target through SNAP cuts that are not part of the $133.5 billion.
 More than 90 percent of SNAP expenditures are for food assistance benefits for low-income households. The remainder goes to the federal share of state administrative costs for the program, block grants for nutrition assistance in Puerto Rico and American Samoa, employment and training and nutrition education services for SNAP households, funds for commodities for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and funding for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). For purposes of this analysis, we assume those other activities would bear a proportional share of the cuts. As a result, we assume that SNAP benefits would need to be cut by $121.5 billion over the period. This is a conservative estimate of the share that would come from benefits; in the past, Congress has favored these other activities and not looked to them for large budget cuts. In addition, during the Budget Committee mark-up committee staff indicated that under a block grant, states could cut benefits in order to fund other activities, such as job training. So the cut to SNAP benefits could be deeper than this analysis assumes.
 All estimates use CBO’s March 2012 baseline assumptions. These estimates do not separately take into account the two policy proposals that House Budget Committee staff indicated were included in the $133.5 billion (see footnote 2). Rather, they are intended to be illustrative of the size of the cuts that would be required.
 These estimates are relative to CBO’s participation projections. This assumes the cut would go into effect in fiscal year 2013 (i.e., starting this October) and would be proportional to projected SNAP spending in each year (as estimated by CBO), and that the individuals who would be cut would otherwise have received the average benefit. Under these assumptions, the reduction in the number of beneficiaries would be somewhat smaller than 8 million in later years, because CBO assumes that the number of people participating in SNAP will decline as the economy recovers more fully.
 To estimate an across-the-board cut, we reduced the size of maximum benefits relative to the TFP by 12 percent each year. Because benefits are temporarily set at higher levels (113.6 percent of the June 2009 TFP) as a stimulus measure, this would result in two benefit cuts, one in October 2012 and another in November 2013 when the benefit increase from the Recovery Act is scheduled to expire. There are other alternatives for timing across-the-board cuts.
 The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal, House Budget Committee, March 20, 2012, page 39.
 Under federal rules, a household’s monthly income must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line — or roughly $1,980 a month (about $23,800 a year) for a family of three in 2011 — to qualify. There are some exceptions; for example, households with seniors and people with disabilities are not subject to the gross income test but must have net income (after deductions for certain necessary expenses) at or below 100 percent of the poverty line. States have some flexibility to lift the gross income test for certain other households, while some categories of people are not eligible for SNAP regardless of how low their income and assets may be — such as strikers, certain legal immigrants, and all undocumented immigrants. Unemployed childless adults may receive SNAP benefits for only three months out of every three years, except in areas with high unemployment.
 Based on preliminary Census Bureau estimates using the “Supplemental Poverty Measure.” See Kathleen S. Short, “The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010,” Bureau of the Census, January 2011, tables 1 and 3a, http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research/Short_ResearchSPM2010.pdf. The Supplemental Poverty Measure defines poverty as family income (cash income after taxes plus the value of SNAP and other food assistance, housing assistance, and energy assistance, minus out-of-pocket medical and work expenses) that falls below an updated poverty line. It uses a broader family unit that includes unmarried partners and foster children.
 Unpublished CBPP analysis of the March 2011 Current Population Survey using a poverty measure that follows National Academy of Sciences recommendations.