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Trump plans to make more people work for food stamps

(CNN) — If Congress won’t make more food stamp recipients work for their benefits, the Trump administration will.

The US Department of Agriculture unveiled a proposed rule Thursday that would expand work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as the food stamp program is formally known. The proposal comes on the same day as President Donald Trump plans to sign a farm bill that had a similar provision that was eventually eliminated

The overhaul marks the administration’s latest effort to impose work requirements in government assistance programs. In an unprecedented move, it has started allowing states to mandate that Medicaid recipients find employment. Administration officials point to the nation’s low unemployment rate as a reason to push more Americans to self-sufficiency.

“A central theme of the Trump administration has been to expand prosperity for all Americans, which includes helping people lift themselves out of pervasive poverty,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, noting it will save $15 billion over 10 years. The proposed rule “restores the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population, while it’s also respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program.”

The food stamp program already requires non-disabled, working-age adults without dependents to have jobs. They can only receive benefits for three months out of every 36-month period unless they are working or participating in training programs 20 hours a week.

But states can waive that requirement for areas where unemployment is at least 10% or there is an insufficient number of jobs, as defined by the Department of Labor. Already, some red states, including Kentucky and West Virginia, are phasing out or eliminating their waivers.

The proposed rule would make it harder for states to receive those waivers by tightening the definition of areas where there are insufficient jobs, curtailing states’ ability to “bank” exemptions for future years and limiting waivers to only one year instead of up to two, among other changes.

There were 3.8 million Americans who fell into the target category in 2016, the latest federal figure available. Some 2.8 million of them were not working.

The agency’s move could result in hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries losing their assistance, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget & Policy Priorities. Typically, one-third of Americans live in an area where the work requirement is waived.

The proposed rule would cut the number of areas with waivers by three-quarters, according to the agency.

Many low-income people can’t find a good job with steady hours, even in today’s robust economy, said Rachel West, director of poverty research at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. That volatility, combined with the challenge of documenting one’s hours, will result in many folks losing their benefits.

“In low-wage jobs, there is significant churn week-to-week, month-to-month, in hours,” West said. “So many people cannot control their hours in today’s labor market.”

The farm bill passed by the House called for many food stamp recipients to be locked out of the program for up to three years if they fail to work or enroll in job training. The legislation would have also expanded the work requirement to those in their 50’s to work and extended it to parents with school-age children.

The final version, however, did not contain these changes.

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9 comments

  • Kevin Rahe

    We should move away from institutionalized charity. We would all be much better served by keeping charity local. Those receiving such benefits should be asking for them when they need them, rather than having them silently loaded onto a credit card on a regular basis.

    • Shabadoo Simmons

      Many local charities can’t cover their own ‘locals’. Many red states rely on the coastal states to support them for example. At the state level many northern MI states are supported by Oakland Wayne and Macomb.

  • Clyde Brown

    Sure, sure, the president has an answer for everything. I’m a democrat, I like what this program mostly has in it. I see why and the goals of the president. BUT I can’t see cutting the legs off older people and those with pre existing conditions so they die along the way to living their retirement years out. I mean yeah they have a choice to have good health insurance but they pay that and who’s going to pay their taxes or enough food on the table. It’s ignorant to pull so much for 2.8 milion people being targets to work when he’s killing 20 million in 10 years.

  • AMH

    Give out just the staples, flour, sugar, milk, eggs! Hell most of us that have worked our whole lives don’t buy what they can! Sorry but pop, candy, seafood, and frozen dinners should not be allowed! I see people where I live that I know are on assistance and getting rent and utilities paid also that knock windows out and dont even try to put anything over the window in the winter! Why should they! Drug test mandatory! Go Trump its about time! Who wants to hire half of them. They have the system and legal system tuned in! They will look for a law suit! And oh yea, how about all the legal aid. Are most of you aware that if they abuse meth we are giving them teeth!! Came right from my dentist! A single mom, that’s trying, they don’t want to help her out if she is making what they consider too much money. Some have been told you are better NOT to work! What an incentive that is! Tired of all the crying, I see 75-80 year olds working at the stores where these people shop! They can’t get help because they did it what they thought was the right way, they worked!!! But cannot afford medical because these lazy pieces of crap are getting it!! No more excuses!! Heard em all!!

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