- 筑波大学人文社会科学研究科 国際地域研究専攻
- 筑波大学地域研究 = Area studies Tsukuba (ISSN:09121412)
- vol.39, pp.57-70, 2018-03-31
The food stamp program (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: SNAP) has been an integral part of American social welfare system since its inception in the 1960s. By providing food-purchasing assistance for low income families, it has saved millions of destitute people, especially children, from malnutrition and hunger. In the aftermath of the 2008 recession, the number of food stamp recipients has reached a record high and it has become the "last resort" safety net for those who lost jobs. Even after the U.S. economy regained the pre-recession level, more than 10% of the nation's population has been benefiting from the program. In recent years, this rapid expansion has made the food stamp program a target for criticism among budget-minded conservative Republicans and they have explored the possibility of cutting its benefits. However, since the food stamp program is administered by the Department of Agriculture under the Agricultural Act, in order to scale it down, critics have to confront various interests. Influential agricultural lobbies represent large-scale commercial farms and agribusiness. Food and beverage companies and retailers are also opposed to the cutbacks of food stamps. As a result, aside from minor budgetary changes, the food stamp program has not been changed to date. This article examines the recent controversy over the food stamp reform and explores the difficulties that conservative Republicans faced in Congress when they tried to remove food stamp program from the Agricultural Act of 2014. By focusing upon the debate in the 113th Congress, this article demonstrates that the food stamp program cannot be changed as long as conservative Republicans adhere to the principle of fiscal conservatism and fail to negotiate with agricultural and commercial interests which support the program.