The Biden White House is planning to use a strange USDA measure to push for an increase in food stamp aid for tens of millions of people.
The measure, called the ‘market basket,’ is a list used to decide food stamp benefits, and can be changed without Congress.
Experts say this re-evaluation might end in a boost of 20% or more to food stamp benefits. That would mean around a $136-a-month increase in the benefits for a family of four.
“This is very meaningful,” according to Harvard’s Jason Furman, who was one of Obama’s Economic Advisers. “It’s one of the larger things we can do to solve poverty without Congress.”
Furman says the Obama administration did not take these actions because Republicans had both houses at the time.
“We made a decision that it could not only be overruled by the GOP, but they could install something worse. So we decided not to try,” he said.
President Biden has been hinting at the new move for some time now – frequently touting cars lined up for miles at food banks for groceries. President Biden used this imagery in his first Congressional address.
“I didn’t believe I would ever see that in America,” he said.
According to 2011 research, over 25% of food stamp recipients go through their monthly benefit within one week, while over half use it by the second week.
While the market basket has been used in the past to keep costs constant, this time around the USDA won’t be forced to be cost-neutral according to Stacy Dean, who is leading the push for Agriculture Secretary Tom VIlsack.
“A core goal is to ensure nutrition security, not only food security,” said Dean. “We want to ensure these benefits are giving a truly nutritious diet.”
Author: Blake Ambrose