Skip to Content

Unlawful Food Stamp Increases Are Contributing to Inflation

In 2021, bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) bypassed Congress to unilaterally raise food stamp benefits by a whopping 27 percent—the largest increase in the program’s history. By the end of 2022, taxpayers were spending $11 billion every single month on the food stamp program—all while struggling to stay within their own grocery budgets.

A new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) reviews the steps USDA took to inflate food stamp benefits and encourages Congress to reset the Thrifty Food Plan to 2020 levels, while also freezing maximum monthly allotments.

USDA’s unlawful actions cannot be ignored.

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to periodically reevaluate the Thrifty Food Plan, the agency’s most conservative estimate of food costs for a family of four. The reevaluation was meant to update the plan to reflect changes in dietary guidance, food prices, and consumer consumption patterns, but, instead, USDA focused their efforts on using the reevaluation to increase food stamp benefits without Congress’s approval.

As the report details, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at USDA abused the Farm Bill’s directive to accomplish their own political agenda, enacting the monstrous increase in food stamp benefits and ignoring the program’s well-established policy of cost neutrality. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the expansion of benefits will cost taxpayers up to $250 billion over the next ten years.

Taxpayers can’t afford this—or any part—of Biden’s agenda. 

Not only is President Biden’s expansion of food stamps discouraging work and exacerbating ongoing worker shortages, it’s also contributing to higher prices at the grocery store. Research shows that food prices increase when welfare programs like food stamps see a bump in benefits. With more money in their pockets, welfare beneficiaries increase consumer demand for food products, which in turn raises prices. One estimate suggests that increased food stamp spending beginning in 2019 may have increased grocery prices by 15 percent.

It’s no secret that Bidenomics is a failure. Record-setting government spending, overregulation, and inflation are no recipe for success. And while the outrageous and unlawful increase in food stamp benefits is just a piece of the problem, it’s a big one that should be addressed.

Congress must reassert its authority over government spending.

Short of fully repealing USDA’s food stamp expansion—which Congress would be well within its right to do—lawmakers could reset the Thrifty Food Plan to 2020 levels and hold future benefit increases until inflation-adjusted Thrifty Food Plan levels catch up.

This would save taxpayers at least $152 billion over the next decade and keep benefits the same for current food stamp enrollees. Without any change, CBO has estimated that taxpayers may be spending more than $1 trillion on food stamps over the next decade—a hefty price to pay when taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet themselves.

Taxpayers have the right to hold those in charge of government spending accountable, but that only works when elected representatives are the ones making the decisions. And until USDA is reined in, taxpayers are stuck footing the bill without a voice.

As Congress considers a new Farm Bill, it should reverse course. By resetting the Thrifty Food Plan to 2020 levels—and freezing maximum allotments until inflation-adjusted Thrifty Food Plan levels can catch up—lawmakers could save taxpayers more than $150 billion over the next decade.

FGA Research in the News:

Daily Caller | EXCLUSIVE: Watchdog Report Highlights Enormous Cost Of Biden’s ‘Unlawful’ Food Stamp Expansion

At FGA, we don’t just talk about changing policy—we make it happen.

By partnering with FGA through a gift, you can create more policy change that returns America to a country where entrepreneurship thrives, personal responsibility is rewarded, and paychecks replace welfare checks.