WSJ's Stephen Moore Pretends GOP's Food Stamp Cuts Won't Affect Children

On Fox News, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore defended the GOP plan to cut billions from the food stamp program by falsely claiming the cuts wouldn't hurt children, that the program suffers from “immense” fraud, and that millionaires could qualify for benefits. But studies show fraud is extremely rare and millions of families will be negatively affected by the cuts. 

On the September 20 edition of Fox's America's Newsroom, Moore downplayed the proposed $40 billion cuts to the program, claiming the benefits weren't “slashed” but “trimmed” and justified the move by saying there is an “immense amount of fraud” in the program that “you could live in a million-dollar mansion and still get food stamps,” and that “families with children would not be affected by any of this”:

Contrary to Moore's claim that children would not be impacted by the cuts, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that the proposal would leave 3.8 million people without benefits, many of whom are in low-income families. The bill would also limit schools meals for hundreds of thousands of children:

  • 1.7 million unemployed, childless adults in 2014 who live in areas of high unemployment -- a group that has average income of only 22 percent of the poverty line (about $2,500 a year for a single individual) and for whom SNAP is, in most cases, the only government assistance they receive (this number will average 1 million a year over the coming decade);[4]
  • 2.1 million people in 2014, mostly low-income working families and low-income seniors, who have gross incomes or assets modestly above the federal SNAP limits but disposable income -- the income that a family actually has available to spend on food and other needs -- below the poverty line in most cases often because of high rent or child care costs.  (This number will average 1.8 million a year over the coming decade.)  In addition, 210,000 children in these families would also lose free school meals;
  • Other poor, unemployed parents who want to work but cannot find a job or an opening in a training program -- along with their children, other than infants.

CBPP included a table explaining how American households would be hurt by the cuts:

Moore's claim that millionaires could also qualify for SNAP benefits is equally misleading. The Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the food stamp program, explained that households must meet certain requirements to receive benefits “including resource and income tests.” To qualify, households must have less than $3250 (which includes vehicles) in countable resources. As Politifact pointed out, a person matching Moore's description receiving SNAP benefits would be “ridiculously improbable”:

People above the income ceiling could certainly receive benefits under false pretenses, but doing so would be illegal. Is it possible to be a millionaire and legally receive food stamps? We found one way -- but it's ridiculously improbable. You'd have to own a million-dollar house but have no other income, and live in a state with sufficiently lenient enforcement to allow it. (Principal residence values, among other assets, are not counted in determining eligibility.)

In addition, fraud in the SNAP program is extremely rare. The USDA reported that fraud and waste in the SNAP program is less than 1 percent.