10/22/2012 11:21 pm ET Updated Oct 22, 2012

Mitt Romney Wants To Get People Off Food Stamps ‘Not By Cutting The Program'

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said in his closing remarks at Monday night’s debate that he wanted to get people off food stamps, but not by changing the program so fewer people qualify.

“I want to make sure we get people off food stamps, not by cutting the program but by getting them good jobs,” Romney said.

Conservatives from Romney on down have made a major talking point out of surging enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, informally known by its former name, food stamps. From 2007 to 2011, enrollment in SNAP increased 70 percent, to 46 million Americans per month at a cost of $78 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. More people received benefits because more became eligible for the program because of the faltering economy.

Romney’s statement that he would not cut food stamps is out of line with many Republicans, including Romney’s own running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). Ryan this year proposed slashing billions in food stamp spending.

Romney’s comment may be out of line with his own campaign platform, as well. Though www.MittRomney.com says almost nothing about SNAP, economists with the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorites have estimated that Romney’s proposal to cap federal spending at 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product would necessitate drastic cuts to SNAP and other programs.

“Reducing SNAP by those percentages would cause 10 to 14 million fewer low-income people to be assisted in 2016, SNAP benefits to be reduced by $1,300 to $1,800 a year for a family of four, or some combination of the two,” according to the Center’s calculation.



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