Trump’s new food stamp proposal weaponizes government against poor people – The Washington Post

Daily Kos: The cruelty’s the point: Trump to take food stamps from working families, elderly, disabled people

“This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance.”

“The administration’s proposed rule change is the latest in a series of attacks on the food stamp program, which have included trying to impose stricter work requirements on beneficiaries and restricting eligibility. Sometimes that attack is straightforward, just trying to cut the program. But at other times it employs a favorite Republican tactic: weaponizing bureaucracy against poor people.”

Trump’s new food stamp proposal weaponizes government against poor people – The Washington Post

Opinion writer

July 23 at 12:34 PM

The Trump administration has learned that some food stamp recipients may have a few hundred dollars in the bank, and the administration is on it. So it is responding to this emergency by taking steps that could take food stamps away from 3.1 million Americans who rely on them to eat.

This is a story about government and budgets and bureaucracy, but it’s also a story about philosophy. One way to think about it is to ask this question: Which makes you angrier, a child going hungry, or someone getting a government benefit who might be able to do without it?

If you’re a Republican, the answer is almost certainly the latter. In fact, you’d probably be happy to take benefits away from a hundred or a thousand people who need them — or maybe even 3.1 million — if it meant that just one person gaming the system could be stopped.

That’s not to say that Republicans actually want kids to go hungry any more than Democrats want people to game the system and get benefits they don’t need. But there’s a basic difference in what they see as an urgent problem and what they’re willing to live with to solve that problem.

The administration’s proposed rule change is the latest in a series of attacks on the food stamp program, which have included trying to impose stricter work requirements on beneficiaries and restricting eligibility. Sometimes that attack is straightforward, just trying to cut the program. But at other times it employs a favorite Republican tactic: weaponizing bureaucracy against poor people.

That’s what’s happening here. As it stands now, in 43 states if you’re poor enough to be eligible and enroll in other anti-poverty programs, you can be automatically enrolled in food stamps, too. So what the administration wants to do is forbid states from doing that automatic enrollment so people would have to go through a separate application process for food stamps, including asset tests to make sure they don’t own their home or have a bank account with enough money in it to afford a car repair.

But Republicans are deeply, deeply concerned that there might be a national epidemic of people gaming the food stamp system. So are there millions of rich folks living in mansions who nonetheless have meager incomes and are therefore able to get the lavish average benefit of $126 per month per person, or $1.40 per meal?

Well, no. If you ask Republicans, they’ll point to … one guy. His name is Rob Undersander, and he wrote an op-ed a few years ago telling how he was able to apply for and receive food stamps despite having savings and property because he’s a retiree with a low income.

Republicans talk about him all the time. Here he is on Fox News. Here he is on the Fox Business channel. Here he is in a video produced for a conservative think tank. Here are multiple Republicans talking about him at a congressional hearing.

That, to them, is not a moral outrage. After all, it isn’t as though we’re talking about a real injustice, like Donald Trump Jr. having to pay taxes on his inheritance. They’re just poor people. A little hunger will do them good.

Daily Kos: The cruelty’s the point: Trump to take food stamps from working families, elderly, disabled people

The Trump administration failed in its efforts to kick millions of people off of food stamps in last year’s Farm Bill, so it’s taking another stab at it now with a proposed rule to force—and this is the administration’s figure—3 million people off the program.

The rule would restrict Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for households who have savings or other assets. Have a car? It’ll be harder to get food. A senior or disabled person trying to save for an inevitable emergency? Sorry. Saving for your kids’ school supplies? There go your food stamps. The current rules for SNAP allow states to adjust the income eligibility limits to adjust for housing and childcare costs that take a large share of income, allowing people to have safe homes and even allowing parents to work outside the home and still be able to feed themselves and their families. Because even more people shouldn’t be forced into having to choose between having a roof or having food.

“This proposal is yet another attempt by this Administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis,” Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow said in a statement. Stabenow, the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and its Republican Chairman Pat Roberts refused to allow the cuts the administration was demanding in the Farm Bill legislation that authorizes the program. “This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance.”

The rule would disproportionately hurt working families, the elderly, and the disabled. Working parents might have to work less to continue to qualify, and seniors would have to spend down their savings. It would make people already surviving at the margins to become even more vulnerable, not allowing them to have even their own safety net. Even congressional Republicans weren’t willing to do this, which is why Trump is doing it now. This isn’t about the meager $2.5 billion the administration says it will save. It doesn’t give a damn about the budget.

The cruelty is the point.

Stay tuned to this page from Hands Off SNAP! for upcoming links to provide public comments condemning this proposed rule.

 

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