Tiny Savings in Modest but Important Budgets

The White House budget notes how the Deparment of Agriculture is providing assistance to almost 25 million Americans in need:

Food stamps alleviate hunger and malnutrition among low-income individuals. In 2005, the Food Stamp program will provide approximately $26.3 billion in benefits to 24.9 million people. The Federal Government will provide an additional $4.1 billion for State administrative costs, job training programs for food stamp recipients, and the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance block grant.

But Donald Luskin has caught Paul Krugman being shrill in his latest NRO oped. Here is the quote from Krugman:

One of the proposed spending cuts would make it harder for working families with children to receive food stamps, terminating aid for about 300,000 people.

Luskin cannot deny this claim and prefers to rephrase it in how the White House sees it. Well, let’s go directly to what the OMB wrote:

The Administration is committed to improving integrity in the Food Stamp Program with a goal of reducing the national average error rate from 8.3 percent for 2002, to 7.4 percent for 2005. This improvement is projected to save as much as $110 million in 2005.

People not eligible under the original intent of the program (to use Luskin’s terminology) represents an “error”? But if you look at the document that Luskin links to and compare this savings to the baseline projection of spending, the savings is a mere 0.3%. Luskin’s oped tries to tell the readers of NRO we all had tax cuts even though he knows there is a General Fund deficit in excess of $600 billion per year. While I can sympathize with the poor parents with children who are about to be cut off from the Food Stamps program, I think Max as he wanders off the reservation.