The actual rate of food stamp trafficking, in which food stamp recipients sell their benefits for cash, is 1.3 percent, according to the most recent data. Watch Harris claim to CNN that the food stamp fraud rate is about 10 percent, making his 5 percent cut to the program seem not so bad:
It’s a 5 percent decrease when we know there’s 10.5 percent of the stores that take food stamps are engaged in trafficking, so we know the fraud stands at 10 percent of the stores. We only want to cut 5 percent. That oughta leave more money getting to the hands of the people who do need it. And there are millions of Americans who need that benefit. [...]
Furthermore, the cuts Harris and his fellow Republicans support have no connection to the trafficking problem he repeatedly and misleadingly cited on CNN Thursday. The cuts primarily come from work requirements that are redundant and harmful and from changing the eligibility process in ways that will leave millions more families hungry. None of that will prevent the tiny subset of food stamp recipients who sell their benefits for cash from continuing to do so, but it will leave between 4 and 6 million of the most vulnerable Americans without the funds they rely upon to feed themselves. Conservatives object to programs that make food stamps available to people with after-tax incomes above 130 percent of the federal poverty line, but eight in ten hungry children live in households that make up to 185 percent of the poverty mark, so tightening eligibility rules will inevitably put needy families into further hardship. Food charities have said they are already beyond their capacity and cannot absorb the additional wave of hungry people.