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I wouldn't have believed this story if I didn't research it myself.
The LIHEAP Loophole or Heat and Eat

SNAP benefits paid to recipients in 16 states and the District of Columbia are targeted by new budget cutting legislation proposed in Congress by a bipartisan conference made up of members from the House and Senate.  

Certain SNAP recipients in the following states would be affected if the legislation passes.

California
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Maine
Massachusetts
Michigan
Montana
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Vermont
Washington
Wisconsin


Information about the measure can be found at the House website linked.
Bill #: H.R. 2642
Name of Bill: Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

The Statement of Managers explains how the joint conference split the difference between the prior House and Senate versions of the bill that were competing for passage.

JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE  
Title IV—Nutrition

(6) Standard Utility allowances based on the receipt of energy assistance payments

The House bill provides that only Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) payments above $20 would trigger a standard utility allowance (“SUA”) deduction.
The Senate amendment provides that only LIHEAP payments above $10 would trigger a SUA deduction. The Conference substitute adopts the House provision.

There’s a clear explanation about the link between LIHEAP and SNAP at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website.

To calculate eligibility for benefits, SNAP allows deductions from gross income for certain essential household expenses like utilities.  In some areas of the country, heating a home during the winter can be costly. To streamline the approval process, some states use a household’s receipt of assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to show that a SNAP applicant incurs these costs and thus qualifies for the standard utility allowance deduction.

“A few states began to provide a nominal LIHEAP benefit (just 10 cents a year in one state, and $1 a year in some others) to SNAP households that don’t otherwise receive a LIHEAP benefit, including many households that do not incur heating or cooling costs.  These states did so to simplify verification requirements for the shelter deduction and to qualify more households for the SUA, enabling a considerable number of households that don’t incur heating or cooling costs to gain credit, in the SNAP benefit calculation, for utility costs they don’t actually pay and consequently to receive larger SNAP benefits.  Sixteen states and Washington, D.C. have adopted this procedure.”

A detailed description of the practice appeared in the Congressional Research Service Report:  The Next Farm Bill: Changing the Treatment of LIHEAP Receipt in the Calculation of SNAP Benefits (CRS Report R42591).

Both the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and  Forestry and the House Agriculture Committee have reported bills (S. 954 and H.R. 1947, respectively) that would limit the deduction associated with LIHEAP, particularly seeking to end a practice that has been referred to as “Heat and Eat.” Similar proposals were considered in the 112th Congress but were not enacted.
The report also includes the list of states that had passed “heat and eat" legislation as of last May when it was published. (on p.7)

The new legislation would require applicants to provide additional proof of their utilities cost if their LIHEAP documentation shows a yearly benefit of less than $20.  The federal government expects 850,000 current SNAP recipients to be affected by a reduction in benefits or disqualification. The program expects to save $8 billion over a 10 year period. Currently there are about 17 million SNAP beneficiaries in the affected states where the cost of the program was approximately $28 billion in 2013.

State 2013 Cost of SNAP # of Participants
California    $7,802,866,728    4,245,372
Connecticut    $727,010,388    436,283
Delaware    $236,915,532    155,762
District of Columbia    $242,900,448    146,278
Maine    $360,291,540    241,371
Massachusetts    $1,403,446,392    889,565
Michigan    $2,823,292,500    1,735,759
Montana    $192,080,916    125,704
New Hampshire    $158,275,512    114,919
New Jersey    $1,396,888,104    892,606
New York    $5,566,936,596    3,170,323
Oregon    $1,253,033,136    810,191
Pennsylvania    $2,752,904,472    1,807,510
Rhode Island    $304,028,280    180,860
Vermont    $151,722,708    100,366
Washington    $1,675,513,416    1,113,644
Wisconsin    $1,204,195,344    856,336
TOTAL   $28,252,302,012    17,022,849

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Comment Preferences

  •  A bipartisan conference? (17+ / 0-)

    Were the Democratic members all out for a beer together when this passed?  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:06:22 AM PST

    •  This is a real interesting one. Stabenow has been (17+ / 0-)

      on this since 2012.

      She spoke about it during debate in the Senate a year and a half ago.

      The mass media seems like it wants to keep the details on the down low so I got curious. The cut is going to affect people almost exclusively in the blue states.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:11:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You could not have said it any better! (3+ / 0-)

        You are so correct regarding the Blue States. Republicans appear to want impoverished children and their families to continue to go hungry.

        How can these people live with themselves? They have great Healthcare, a fancy Gym, private offices and their enormous salaries that WE gave them and they basically ignore impoverished constituents.

        Perhaps they need a refresher course on what 'Poverty' is!

    •  Umm... (0+ / 0-)

      The Republicans voted to cut food stamps by 40 billion over ten years.  The Democrats voted to cut food stamps by only 4 billion by closing this loophole.  

      The compromise was much closer to what the Dems wanted, that is 8 billion.  And work requirements and drug testing (wanted by the Republicans) are out.

      This is actually a victory for the Democrats.  If this didn't get hammered out this year, what would have happened to the people getting food stamps if the Repubs take over the Senate in the fall?  And don't think it can't happen.

      As Robert Greenstein, writing for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, says:

      "Here’s the bottom line:
      The proposed conference agreement drops the draconian House provisions, and its one SNAP cut curbs a dubious practice that SNAP’s congressional champions didn’t envision or intend.  There’s no denying that the 4 percent of beneficiaries who would be affected are low-income people who would face a significant benefit reduction.  But congressional rejection of the agreement because of this provision would risk future harm to far larger numbers of low-income people who rely on SNAP.

      Defeating the agreement almost certainly would merely postpone the tightening of the SUA provision; now that the loophole has come to light, it won’t withstand public scrutiny, and it will be closed sooner or later anyway, with its closing widely viewed as a reasonable reform.  Meanwhile, congressional rejection of the proposed conference agreement would likely push the farm bill and SNAP reauthorization into the next Congress — thereby rolling the dice for the more than 45 million people who constitute the other 96 percent of SNAP recipients."

      http://www.cbpp.org/...

      •  This is only a victory.. (7+ / 0-)

        ...if you believe that just giving Republicans the most they could possibly get  is successful negotiating.  We should literally not be cutting a single dollar from SNAP, nor making people choose between heating their homes and eating.  It was grotesque that the Senate made their first offer with cuts, because the House offer was never going to be passed regardless.  A lot of people who work in Washington or the media write about these cuts, and they have to paint it as an acceptable decision.  By saying: "If we didn't cut huge numbers from the program now, it would lead to other cuts in some theoretical future," they've apparently gotten people on their side who will argue that point - but make no mistake, this is not a win for anyone but Republicans, in any ACTUAL MEANINGFUL way.  Rhetoric can make anything sound agreeable.

        •  Exactly! Beating the Traitor Right Until they (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JuliathePoet

          whimper "Please don't hurt me any more", THEN kicking them to drive the lesson home that THIS is what happens when you disrespect the Left for Over Thirty Years, is the ONLY "compromise" they understand - or DESERVE!

      •  The so-called loophole (0+ / 0-)

        is about people who don't DIRECTLY pay for their heating getting a few dollars credit toward home heating costs.  Well, guess what? The vast majority of those people DO pay for heat. It's just included in their rent payments, instead of going on a separate bill. Does Congress think the landlords are paying to heat the building out of their own pockets?! If so, they've obviously never met a landlord!

  •  Is there anything the individual state legislature (5+ / 0-)

    -s can do to tweak their formulas to 'undo' the effects of the cuts, or is the only option for the state to simply take over the drop in benefits if they can?

    •  Eligibility and benefit amounts are determined in (6+ / 0-)

      the states.  LIHEAP documentation isn't a reliable indicator of an actual dollar amount that an applicant spent on heating a home. It only shows the amount of LIHEAP assistance received which SNAP used as a starting point to extrapolate an applicant's total heating cost.

      The charge is that some states issued small dollar LIHEAP amounts indiscriminately to people who used them to obtain SNAP benefits when they wouldn't have qualified if their true utilities cost was known.  There's no evidence that this ever occurred, only anecodotes such as applicants who live in apartments where the heat is included in the rent. SNAP allows applicants to deduct the cost of shelter. Heating costs could have been deducted twice, if it was included in rent and the applicant presented LIHEAP documentation.

      Chasing phantoms is a popular pass time for Republicans and it's becoming more popular with Democrats too.

      Here's what Stabenow said in the Senate in 2012.

      Ms. STABENOW.   I deeply care about protecting nutrition assistance programs. I hope that is not in doubt. But here is what is going on. In a handful of States, they have found a way to increase the SNAP benefits for people in their States by sending $1 checks in heating assistance to everyone who gets food assistance. Now, it is important to consider what a family's heating bill is when determining how much help they need, which is why the two programs are linked. But sending out $1 checks to everyone is not the intent of Congress. For the small number of States that are doing that, it is undermining the integrity of the program, in my judgment.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:56:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please send your diary to Rachel as suggested (10+ / 0-)

    above. This is stunning!! Especially since blue states pay much more to the Feds in taxes. Please send it.

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:04:41 AM PST

  •  Poor folks must not only starve, (9+ / 0-)

    but also freeze now to please the Republican stooges.  Yet they don't touch a single penny of the subsidies sent to the most profitable corporations, agribusiness, and millionaire "farmers" much less military contractors or the Pentagon.

    This is beyond shameful.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:15:05 AM PST

  •  Opportunity (6+ / 0-)

    Seems to me like a good way to get rid of some Republican governors and state legislators.   Maine, Wisconsin and Michigan - I'm talking to you, specifically.

  •  Someone explain this, please (4+ / 0-)

    "...to qualify more households for the SUA, enabling a considerable number of households that don’t incur heating or cooling costs to gain credit, in the SNAP benefit calculation, for utility costs they don’t actually pay and consequently to receive larger SNAP benefits. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C. have adopted this procedure.”

    Ending this practice doesn't sound like a bad thing to me, if I'm reading that paragraph correctly.

    •  Considering that none of the information in this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, jbsoul

      piece was served by the mass media to the public, it's very possible that this isn't the entire story either.

      I'm playing at investigative reporter and this is as far as I've gone at this point.

      It's intriguing to imagine that "a considerable number of households that don’t incur heating or cooling costs" would be able "to gain credit, in the SNAP benefit calculation, for utility costs they don’t actually pay."

      Is that a phantom hallucination of the nihilists who believe government is the problem? Is there evidence that the system was actually abused in this manner? Isn't SNAP audited?  

      It's possible that there isn't a considerable number of cheaters and the measure is just window dressing. It would allows the impostors in Congress to go home to their districts and tell their constituents about the "hard decisions" they had to make.

      Look at my sig line. . .

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 12:20:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

        There isn't enough information yet about this "compromise"  to really form an opinion one way or the other.  The focus so far has been on the SNAP cuts, but not on what, if anything, the Republicans are sacrificing.

        I did see one blurb about the beef/cattlemen's lobby griping about Country of Origin Labels (again) but that's about it.

      •  It wasn't illegal abuse... It was just a quick (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark Lippman

        way for the SNAP system in certain states to add a bit to a family's eligibility.  This was not about people cheating; it seemed to be a loophole for states to find ways to get more food stamp benefits to more people, even if those people aren't supposed to be getting food stamps according to the federal government's eligibility rules.  So this change in the program closes up that loophole.

        I would like to know exactly how many people have been falling into this gap and how many will be found to NOT be eligible according to this new rule.  I don't believe we have ANY way of knowing until people actually try to apply and can't deduct their utilities because they don't pay their utilities.  And, if people aren't really spending the money on heat that the old system "thought" they were (because they were getting tiny LIHEAP payments),  maybe some of those people really don't qualify for SNAP benefits.. or not all of those SNAP benefits?      

        But does the $1 LIHEAP allowance really represent many people who wouldn't otherwise be eligible?  

        By the way, thanks for investigating this.  I've been sitting here for a couple of hours following links and trying to understand exactly what was done and to whom.  We really still don't know.  It seems that only people at the border of eligibility would be impacted.    

        •  SNAP linked to LIHEAP for efficient, systematic, (0+ / 0-)

          automated application processing using data provided by
          another federal agency which ensures the integrity of the system.  In each of the states where the link was implemented, the legislature enacted a law to authorize it.
          It's was fully legal and encouraged because it reduced administrative costs.

          There is no evidence that SNAP overpaid benefits due to an overestimated heating cost deduction for any applicant. The Congressional Research Service report linked in the diary gave credence to the idea that there was a possibility of overpayment.  Some applicants could have been given a separate deduction for heating costs that they never incurred.  For example, if utilities are included in monthly rent paid to a landlord, the applicant wouldn't qualify for a separate heating cost deduction.

          The history of the bill since it was introduced in the House last July is a series of underhanded stunts conjured up by the Republican Chairs of the Agriculture and Rules Committees. This version of the bill was negotiated behind closed doors. The conference members were selected by the Speaker and the ranking Democrat, Louise Slaughter, was excluded. She gave the Republican  committee Chairs a polite ass-kicking last summer and voted against this bill.

          The list of states and the similarity of the situation to other phony scandals created by the GOP makes me very suspicious.  

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:46:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's cold in those blue states! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mark Lippman, MaryAskew, judyms9

            With the exception of California, those states all are cold in the winter, and folks DO need help paying for heat.  Linking LIHEAP eligibility and SNAP eligibility has been a big administrative cost-savings for those states, and this change will mean that they'll have to add staff to keep up with the paperwork.  So much for one-stop shopping, easing administrative burdens, and cutting down on the numbers of public employees.  

            BTW, research out of California shows that when people use up their food budgets toward the end of the month, they're more likely to wind up in the hospital with poorly managed diabetes.  Cutting food stamps is penny-wise, pound foolish.  

            •  Exactly. They're so eager to close this so-called (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SGA, judyms9

              loophole, but not the Medicaid expansion loophole that leaves millions of poor people with the risk of medical bills they'd never be able to pay.

              There is no existence without doubt.

              by Mark Lippman on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 11:00:11 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  As I read it, the people who are going to be (0+ / 0-)

              affected by this DON'T get help to pay their heat now because they are renters and their landlords pay for their heat.  The welfare people would give them a few bucks of LIHEAP funds so that they would categorically qualify for food stamps.

              But many people in the exact same situation (income and expenses) in other states would not get food stamps because they wouldn't categorically qualify for them because they don't get LIHEAP.  

              Here's the bottom line from the liberal-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

              "The proposed conference agreement drops the draconian House provisions, and its one SNAP cut curbs a dubious practice that SNAP’s congressional champions didn’t envision or intend.  There’s no denying that the 4 percent of beneficiaries who would be affected are low-income people who would face a significant benefit reduction.  But congressional rejection of the agreement because of this provision would risk future harm to far larger numbers of low-income people who rely on SNAP.
              Defeating the agreement almost certainly would merely postpone the tightening of the SUA provision; now that the loophole has come to light, it won’t withstand public scrutiny, and it will be closed sooner or later anyway, with its closing widely viewed as a reasonable reform.  Meanwhile, congressional rejection of the proposed conference agreement would likely push the farm bill and SNAP reauthorization into the next Congress — thereby rolling the dice for the more than 45 million people who constitute the other 96 percent of SNAP recipients.

              http://www.cbpp.org/...

              "Rolling the dice":  That the Repubs will win the Senate back in 2014 and the kind of compromise that the Dems and the Repubs have managed to eke out will not again be possible.  We'd all like to think that the Repubs are going to be out of government (meaning no longer the majority in the House in 2015, but the chances of that are not likely.)    

              •  I'm not sure how I feel about this CBPP liberal (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                judyms9

                party-line.

                90% of SNAP recipients were approved based on categorical eligibility (as opposed to financial eligibility).  And the states have leeway to use broad-based categorical eligibility (40 states), traditional (5 states), or narrow-based categorical eligibility (5 states).

                With categorical eligibility and the Combined Application Project, enrollment in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) confers eligibility for SNAP. The problem with this is that states like Tennessee and South Carolina approve TANF for households that have too much income to qualify for SNAP if the federal financial eligibility was used. Because those states have more generous TANF programs, their residents have more access to SNAP than residents of other states. Tennessee has the 2nd highest participation rate in SNAP. South Carolina is usually in the top ten.

                The states that use broad based categorical eligibility include receipt of noncash TANF benefits or services such as child care or transportation subsidies, to confer SNAP eligibility.

                There are additional inconsistencies among the states. That was supposed to be a feature, not a bug. It's part of Republican Religion, too.

                So when I see how this bill carves out the so-called LIHEAP loophole, and I look at the list of states affected, my gut reaction is that it stinks. It's austerity targeted to 16 states.

                There is no existence without doubt.

                by Mark Lippman on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:52:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  What all those Red State Republican Right-wing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    States keep getting all their Food-Stamps.

  •  Frankly this has always struck me as weird (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    I heard about this from an anti-poverty advocate. Basically it's as described -- There is not enough LIHEAP money for everyone who is theoretically eligible (it's not an entitlement; I think it's block granted, and yes, Congress keeps cutting the amount). So you (the social worker) put the person in the computer for $1 of LIHEAP, and I'm not sure they even get the $1. By doing so, you make them -- bing! -- categorically eligible for SNAP, without having to do a full SNAP application.

    It's well-intentioned, to save people having to do multiple applications for all the different types of benefits. But it's weird, especially if it's being used for people who don't actually pay for heat.

    So the real cost here is that now the intake workers will have to do a full SNAP application for these folks, that takes into account their actual utility bills.

    The new legislation would require applicants to provide additional proof of their utilities cost if their LIHEAP documentation shows a yearly benefit of less than $20.  
    While this is inconvenient, it's not clear to me that it will have the type of catastrophic impact that the diaries are predicting, and that the GOP is hoping for. I may be wrong on that, but that's my understanding of what Congress is actually doing.
    •  Thank you for bringing that out. I had it in mind (0+ / 0-)

      to say that this situation may be an indicator of what happens when federal programs aren't funded properly.

      SNAP is under pressure to respond quickly to applicants because what it provides is vital.  In the Northeast, there are still homes and apartment buildings that rely on heating oil to stay warm in the winter. Rather than handle paper invoices, there's a push to systematize and automate with data, which might be possible with big utility companies but inconsistent with heating oil delivery.

      I can understand how the use of LIHEAP data would be considered an appropriate paperless solution from another federal agency. It's not at all clear that anyone claimed a deduction without having the utility cost. The lag time for any anticipate savings to show up, or not, is too long for anyone to remember to verify in the future.  But the austerity gods will be appeased for a while.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:56:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark Lippman

      We really don't know the impact.. how many households will be cut by how much.. until people reapply and have to document their heating costs.  It may be much less than the 850,000 families that are estimated.  And, if it is 850,000 families, many of those families may not actually be eligible under current federal guidelines.  

      Whether the federal SNAP eligibility guidelines is expansive enough is, of course, a different matter.  

      •  They passed a bill based on assumptions that may (0+ / 0-)

        not even be true. SNAP gets audited regularly and this type of issue never appeared in the findings.  If it turns out that no one received one cent over the standard amount the tea party extremists can still go home to their districts and brag to their constituents that they cut $8 billion and no one will be the wiser.

        There is no existence without doubt.

        by Mark Lippman on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:56:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  And.... How Many of these States (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pengiep

    had democratic governors UNTIL 2010-- when the GOP unseated several of these governors-- in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, etc., replacing them with GOP doofuses like Walker?

    the democratic party stood around and did nothing to stop this from happening.

    FAIL.

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 04:43:56 PM PST

    •  The Democratic Party? (0+ / 0-)

      No.. It was Democratic voters who stayed home either because they never vote in midterms or to protest the Affordable Care Act.  I don't understand why you are blaming the Democratic PARTY for the teaparty 2010 blow out.

      •  That's Correct (0+ / 0-)

        it's the democratic party's responsibility to help motivate people to go to the polls. you don't get that?

        otherwise what exactly is the responsibility of groups like the DCCC and DNC?

        Clue: it was a GOP gubernatorial group the put together the funding and plan in 2009-2010 to unseat the 11 or so democratic voters that ended up getting voted out of office.

        it was just some "random GOP voters".

        gimme a break.

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 04:14:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So... (0+ / 0-)

          if the Democrats do not "motivate" their constituency enough, then we should all just stay home and let the Republican (teabaggers) take over the country?  Even when the Repubs have a lot more money, a lot more donors with very deep pockets, to do that "motivation"?

           

          •  HERE WE GO AGAIN...., (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            judyms9

            "let the teabaggers take over the country"....

            You really expect me to believe 25 or so knuckleheads in congress are stopping the poor, poor so called democrats in congress from accomplishing what needs to be done?

            ONLY those 25 jerks are a factor? nothing else?

            gimme a break, please.

            please study an actual skilled democratic politician at work: Lyndon Baines Johnson... start with Robert Caro's excellent books, continuing biography of him.

            "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

            by Superpole on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:53:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  And BTW..... (0+ / 0-)

            it's more than a bit disturbing you're more concerned about the phony teabagger mob "taking over our country"... and NOT worried about the actual threat: venal, corrupt corporations?

            LOL... wow

            "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

            by Superpole on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 06:57:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Red states (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to know how much was cut from the RED states where MOST of the welfare and food stamp money actually goes????

  •  send bill back to Corleone/Veto! (if nec) (0+ / 0-)

    honor the treaties. honor the honorable. and, leave us not forget Jotter; one of the great dkos recconteurs..

    by renzo capetti on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 07:45:23 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the e-mail. (0+ / 0-)

    I rephrased the verbiage to be more in my own words and reflect my own perspective and experience, and I sent it to Maine senators Collins and King.

    I am swamped right now, so I'm very grateful when these things land in my in-box -- really simplifies the process!

  •  don't feed the aged and the children (0+ / 0-)

    if you can't put them on an ice floe (since there aren't any) and send them out to sea, you can starve and /or freeze them to death. That should cut your expenses.
    Any Congress person, particularly those blue state Democrats should be deeply ashamed of themselves if they let this happen.

    The art of life is more like wrestling than dancing.

    by friendjudy on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 10:55:23 AM PST

    •  Are you kidding? (0+ / 0-)

      Have you read much about this at all?  The Republicans wanted to cut 40 FORTY billion from food stamps.  The cuts they wanted were "draconian".  The Dems wanted to cut 4 billion by tightening a loophole.  They compromised by cutting 8 billion by tightening that loophole.  Let me repeat that:  The Republicans voted to cut 40 FORTY billion; the Dems 4 billion.

      The Dems have nothing to be ashamed about.  They are trying to save this program.  Read what the Repubs wanted.. and wound up with not much of what they wanted at all.

        As it is, I live in a state that doesn't use this loophole.  There are people here who might qualify for food stamps if they, with exactly the same income and expenses, were in a loophole state.  The states with the loophole were essentially lying to the feds to more easily qualify people for food stamps.  People in the dirt-poor red states generally did not get to take advantage of this loophole.

      http://www.cbpp.org/...

      http://www.cbpp.org/...

      And the Washington Post has a good overview here:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

       

      •  Are you kidding (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        judyms9, RiveroftheWest

            No Democrat should vote for any cut in Food Stamps.

         Not an 8 billion cut nor an 8 billion cut nor a 4 billion cut.

         This is the richest country in the world. We can afford for
         Americans to eat.

         The Democrats have to stand for something: I suggest we
         stand on the principle that no American should go hungry.

        •  So what do you say to Democratic House members (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          judyms9, RiveroftheWest

          with consistently Progressive voting records like the one who explained on his website:

          The legislation cuts $8 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by closing a loophole that impacts one-third of states, of which New Mexico is not one, but does not put the money back into the program.

          “While these changes reform the food assistance program, I would have preferred that the savings were reinvested to support families that are struggling to put food on the table.”

          It's not enough for Progressives to be angry without understanding what happened because the rest of the program is going to be at risk, too. All the Republicans have to do is whisper the word "fraud" and the Democrats run for cover.

          This particular time, it's not just that they cut $8 billion. Look at the states that will be affected. Is that supposed to be a coincidence that almost all of them lean Democratic?

          There is no existence without doubt.

          by Mark Lippman on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:02:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  What if someone rents somewhere (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    and the heating is included in the rent (big furnace, fuel oil filled automatically, etc.). What would that person say in terms of a "my heating bill" ? I don't know how low income housing units work, but is this common?

    New England is the land of fuel oil.

    •  The CRS report linked in the article suggested (0+ / 0-)

      the possibility that some SNAP applicants may have been overpaid benefits if they were given a deduction for heating costs they didn't actually incur. An example cited in the report mentioned renters who don't pay for heat or utilities separately.  

      It's ironic that there would interest in Congress in closing this "loophole" but not the Medicare expansion loophole that leaves millions of low income Americans at risk because of the cost of medical care.

      The estimate of 850,000 SNAP recipients who would be affected by this legislation is based on assumptions.  

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 05:16:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are space heaters that folks have to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, RiveroftheWest

      use to keep pipes from freezing and in very stingily heated apartments.  That's part of heating.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 09:01:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The key point is that Mark uncovered yet (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Mark Lippman

    another part of the plutocrats' grand plan to become our government.  Funny how the cold Dakotas didn't show up in this if it were all about heat.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 09:04:18 AM PST

    •  I have enough new information for a re-write of (0+ / 0-)

      this piece since I wrote it last Tuesday.

      90% of SNAP applicants qualify through categorical eligibility, not financial eligibility. Qualification for TANF, the program formerly known as welfare, confers eligibility for SNAP.  

      The states set their own income limits for TANF eligibility and some, like Tennessee and South Carolina, use thresholds that are more generous than the federal guideline for SNAP. That might partially explain why they rank as top states for SNAP participation rates.  

      Only 5 states use "Narrow based" categorical eligibility and South Dakota is one of them.  Residents there qualify for TANF if their income is under $782/mo compared to North Dakota where those with income under $1306 would qualify.

      These programs aren't applied evenly across the states at all, and I believe that was intentional. Targeting the heating assistance program as a loophole is arbitrary.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 04:13:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hmmmm - but no cuts in the big farm subsidies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    to wealthy land owners - many of whom sit in our US Congress.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:06:15 PM PST

  •  Priorities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    Because these are the "loopholes" we need to close, right? Poor people receiving two forms of assistance, costing blue states millions of dollars. That's a real problem, right? But not the loopholes that allow the most profitable enterprises in the nation to have effective tax rates of 17, 12, 10, all the way to 0% - costing the nation BILLIONS, and at this point, trillions.

  •  Whether (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

      one accepts it or not Fukushima blew up. There is added radiation worldwide. The counter to radiation is nutrition. People who have compromised health problems, HIV + for example need to maintain a balanced diet. ALL of the West Coast states face Japan, a crisis still unresolved with an element of uncertainty. The states they want to cut.
    It's not hard to understand, whether one accepts it or not, to err on the side of caution is more humane.
    Food stamps at this TIME should be increased!
    It's not that much money to start with especially compared to how much effing moneys been wasted in the god damned longwar.
    Poor people get tired of being punished for wars. Whose fault it is, is the god damned MIC!

    March AGAINST monsatanOHagentorange 3/25/13 a time warp

    by 3rock on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 08:07:41 AM PST

    •  Food, shelter, healthcare, education, a living (0+ / 0-)

      wage, work and the fruits of labor, clean air and water, retirement. Not one single person in this rich country should be ever be denied any of these things.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 08:44:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ron Johnson (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman, belinda ridgewood

    Ron "I just want to keep more of my money" Johnson (R-WI) gets my award for the meanest, deceptive Senator I have ever seen, and I have been around awhile.

    Expect nothing from him but "NO", and it probably isn't worth your time to try to convince him otherwise.

    Just say "NO" Johnson.

  •  Food Stamps (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    When are the Repugs going to stop robbing the poor people? Taking food off the tables is inhumane, but that characterizes them. They just don't give a good sh.. as long as they have their money and can get elected using underhanded means.
    These are Americans??????

  •  Food Stamps #2 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    If we can't afford to feed the poor on food stamps, how the hell can we afford to give the oil companies subsidies when they are rolling up huge profits and paying lobbyists to protect them? That's a crime against humanity.

    •  For over 30 years, the rich constantly reminded us (0+ / 0-)

      of their virtues, and many people were brainwashed by repetition.

      There's only one virtue that counts as a real virtue and it shows in the way that less fortunate people are treated.
      The other virtues claimed by the privileged elite are nothing more than vanity.

      They need to be told. If they want to claim virtue, they need to start demonstrating it.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 11:08:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stepping back a moment to consider the impact (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    of these cuts, I see a decline in the standard of living in the affected states, which include my own, more economic malaise, more poverty. more desperation, more recourse to black market and illegal means to secure any income at all...ah, I have it now. The Grand Scheme is to make these states more closely resemble the most regressive Southern states, a sinking to a lowest, meanest common denominator as it were.
    I regret this ability to understand what the narcissists and sociopaths are up to- sorry, I meant to say the Republicans. But a recognition that their actions are driven by uncontrollable pathologies is a step in the right direction. In the broadest terms, our increasing knowledge of their motivations provides fuel for the strategies we use to overcome and marginalize them. And by "them" I mean not merely the puppet politicians but their puppetmasters, the Kochs and similar megalomaniacs.

    •  I say the same thing a little differently. (0+ / 0-)

      They want a re-do of 1865 with a different result. They want to roll back all of the progress our society made since then. They want to make our country into a modern day Confederate States of America.

      There is no existence without doubt.

      by Mark Lippman on Mon Feb 03, 2014 at 11:41:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This decision makes my heart ache. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    I've signed the petition but am afraid we're too late.

  •  I've Totally Freaking Had It, Today I Rebell (0+ / 0-)

    I'm an Air Force veteran who has lost his family's business
    to unethical zoning laws. I am careful with my money and
    have always tried to make wise investments.
    I buy LED lights, generators, I shop for food bargains.
    I have memory issues from chemical companies and the
    VA says their not service connected. So from this day forth
    I'm running my finances just like the wall street
    bankers ....I 'm giving myself my own personal bail out.

    I'm going to take that bail out and help out the poor !

    https://www.facebook.com/...

  •  Tea Parties and Hunger (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    Our Governor, Scott "Juvenile" Walker, State pols, and Republicans in Congress are turning Wisconsin into the undemocratic State of North Mississippi. Women, children, the elderly, and the poor are suffering unthinkable deprivations and degradation.
    Godless Capitalism is a blood relative of Godless Communism and Fascism.

     Wisconsin is completely Koch-eyed, and we want democracy back!

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