President Donald Trump, a man who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and then had a fake job doing business deals for like 50 years before stumbling ass-backwards into becoming president, wants to make getting food stamps even harder than it already is.
The AP reported on Wednesday that the Trump administration is set to propose a rule today that would limit states’ ability to exempt recipients from work requirements in order to receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.
The issue was a major point of contention in this year’s farm bill, with the gremlins in the House GOP looking to completely gut the program; a study commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the House proposal would have slashed monthly food budgets for families receiving the benefit by as much as $75 a month. The House bill, according to the AP, would have also raised the age limit for work requirements from 49 to 59, and required parents who have kids older than 6 to participate in mandatory job training.
Although the House GOP didn’t get its wish in the farm bill, which did ultimately pass, the Trump administration is now trying to enact those requirements through the back door. Per the AP:
Work-eligible able-bodied adults without dependents, known as ABAWDs, can currently receive only three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period if they don’t meet the 20-hour work requirement. But states with an unemployment rate of 10 percent or higher or a demonstrable lack of sufficient jobs can waive those limitations.
States are also allowed to grant benefit extensions for 15 percent of their work-eligible adult population without a waiver. If a state doesn’t use its 15 percent, it can bank the exemptions to distribute later, creating what Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue referred to as a “stockpile.”
The USDA’s proposed rule would strip states’ ability to issue waivers unless a city or county has an unemployment rate of 7 percent or higher. The waivers would be good for one year and would require the governor to support the request. States would no longer be able to bank their 15 percent exemptions. The new rule also would forbid states from granting waivers for geographic areas larger than a specific jurisdiction
In case there was any confusion about where this order came from, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue cleared it right up. “The president has directed me to propose regulatory reforms to ensure those who are able to work do so in exchange for their benefits,” Perdue told reporters in a Wednesday media call announcing the move. “We would much rather have Congress enact these important reforms for the SNAP program. However, these regulatory changes by the USDA will save hardworking taxpayers $15 billion over 10 years and give President Trump comfort enough to support a farm bill he might otherwise have opposed.”
As studies have repeatedly shown, work requirements have turned out to be an absolute racist horror show. These policies don’t reduce poverty— in fact, evidence has shown that they push more people into extreme poverty—and they also don’t actually increase employment long-term.
And $15 billion over 10 years, to be clear, is barely a drop in the bucket—especially when you consider that the federal deficit increased $113 billion (or 17 percent) in 2018 largely due to the GOP’s tax plan. But who are we kidding? This isn’t about “fiscal responsibility.” This is about a visceral hatred of the poor and the destruction of the safety net. Nothing more, nothing less.