The Biden administration is planning to use an obscure US Department of Agriculture instrument to lay the groundwork for a long-term increase in food aid for tens of millions of Americans.
The instrument, known as the ‘market basket,’ is a shopping list used to determine food stamp benefits, and which can be adjusted without risking an impasse in Congress from Republican lawmakers, according to Bloomberg.
A review of the so-called Thrifty Food Plan, ordered by Biden two days after he took office, could trigger an automatic increase in benefits as soon as Oct. 1, a day after expiration of a temporary 15% boost in food stamp payments that Biden included in his $1.9 trillion Covid-relief package.
James Ziliak, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, said the re-evaluation “could result in an upward adjustment of 20% or more in the benefits.” That would amount to roughly a $136-a-month increase in the maximum benefit for a family of four, which was $680 before the temporary pandemic-related increase. -Bloomberg
“This is really meaningful,” according to Harvard professor Jason Furman, who was chairman of former President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “It’s one of the bigger things government can do for poverty without Congress.”
According to Furman, the Obama administration didn’t adjust the market basket because Republicans then controlled both houses of Congress. – READ MORE
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