(CNSNews.com) - People who depend on the government to buy their food using food stamps are boosting the economy, the White House says.
A Thanksgiving message posted on the White House website says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)--AKA food stamps--helps millions of Americans put food on the table and keeps millions out of poverty.
In the last five years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone up 67.7 percent.
"What's more, SNAP is boosting the economy right now," the infographic says. "SNAP's effect extends beyond the food on a family's table--to the grocery stores, truck drivers, warehouses, processing plants and farmers that helped get it there."
The White House says every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity for participating grocery stores and farmer's markets.
"It's estimated that an additional $1 billion in SNAP benefits supports an additional 8,900 to 17,900 full-time-equivalent jobs -- including 3,000 farm jobs," the White House said.
The message is political: It told Americans -- as they prepared for their Thanksgiving feasts -- that a Republican bill would cause nearly 4 million Americans to lose their taxpayer-funded food money next year.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, the Republican legislation, sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), would cut around $4 billion annually from the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program and allow states to set new work requirements for recipients.
People who need food stamps will still get them, Cantor said after the House passed the bill in September. But, he said, "if you're able-bodied, you should be willing to work." And if no jobs are available, "you could go and participate in community service activities or a workfare program."
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would never pass "such hateful, punitive legislation."
In fiscal 2013, a record 47,666,124 people were getting SNAP benefits, compared with 28,409,880 in fiscal 2008, which ended on Sept. 30, 2008--and was the last full fiscal year before Obama took office in January 2009. That is an increase of 19,256,244--or 67.7 percent--in five years.