President Donald Trump’s new $4.1 trillion tax reform program, released on May 23, could have a significantly adverse effect on food retailers. That’s because, as part of the overall $1.7 billion in cuts, the president’s new plan calls for a $193 billion reduction to the federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food assistance budget over the next decade. Currently, 42 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits.
Besides massive reductions proposed for Medicaid and federal pensions, Trumps budget also seeks large cuts in farm subsidies.
Political insiders believe the proposed cuts likely won’t pass the House and/or Senate in their current form, given likely bipartisan resistance to the measure. However, the deep level of proposed cuts ($800 billion alone in Medicaid) clearly signals an intention to dramatically cut federal food assistance to low-income Americans.
If passed at an even a reduced level of trimming, this would mark the second time in four years that both consumers and merchants would face a level of fewer available funds in the food assistance benefits system.
“The president’s proposed budget seems to estimate that $2 billion in revenue to reduce expenditures on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would be generated for the first time, by imposing fees on retailers serving as the delivery mechanism for these benefits,” noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, the large food retailing trade association. “As the president’s proposal, it is meant to message priorities the administration views as important, such as additional spending on defense. The Congress will work through its budget process and will include additional priorities to serve as the basis for an agreed-upon framework. As this process goes forward, we look forward to working with the administration, the Budget Committee and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to address concerns to the food retail industry, including the flawed policy of imposing fees on food retailers in order to reduce the cost of the federal government’s nutrition assistance benefits to the most needy in our society.”