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President Trump is planning food stamp cuts for 2018

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President Donald Trump has made it clear he thinks there are too many people on food stamps. When he said in 2016 that 43 million people are on food stamps, he was communicating a desire to bring to pass one of the biggest goals of conservatives in Congress – which is to cut entitlements and government assistance programs. The food stamps program, which had a price tag of $68 billion in 2017 is one of the programs that is first to be attacked by those seeking to rein in on what they call excessive government spending. There are three ways by which President Trump has tried to cut the number of food stamps recipients and reduce its budget. In this post, we are going to review the three proposals the President has put forward regarding the SNAP program and talk about the merits of each, including his planned food stamp cuts for 2018, which will have devastating effects.

Food Stamp Cuts for 2018 and Beyond

When the President sent Congress his latest budget proposal, as expected, he targeted a lot of programs for step cuts. Prominent among them was the SNAP program, where the President wants to cut more than $213 billion over the next ten years — nearly a 30 percent cut. This will make at least 4 million people ineligible for the program. The main argument used to justify this draconian cut to this vital program is that with the economy growing and unemployment at a record low, there is no need to have so many people on food stamps, especially since food stamp numbers have not returned to pre-great recession levels – when it jumped from 33 million in 2009 when President Obama took office. And even though the number of people on SNAP has been falling in recent years, conservatives want it to go down even further.

However, the reason the number has not returned to the pre-great recession level is that there are some underlying factors about this economic recovery and growth that hides the reality that people in the lower income bracket are facing. The first of those issues is that although people can now find jobs easily, the jobs are not paying the same wages they used to pay. This is especially real for people who had to change careers because their manufacturing jobs have disappeared or gone overseas. For these people, even though they can find work, they are being paid a fraction of what they used to earn. As a result, they turn to the government for help in feeding themselves and their families, even though they are working full time.

Another reality is that others are finding it hard to get full-time work. Part-time work is abundant as businesses look to cut redundancies and operate more efficiently. As a result, some people have had to piece together a few part-time jobs to make ends meet – and so even though they are employed, they are not able to take advantage of the security and financial benefits that a stable full-time employment brings. For some of these people, getting off food stamps is not yet possible because that money has become a vital part of filling the gap left by their inability to find full-time work.

"food stamp cuts for 2018"

Implement Food Stamps in a Box

Another idea proposed by President Trump to try and rein in on the food stamps program is to turn the SNAP program into a box of food that is delivered to recipients monthly. The president says it will be like a “Blue Apron” style box. However, the reality of what is being proposed is far different from Blue Apron. What Trump seeks to do is deliver sub-standard food to SNAP recipients. Picture a box containing government cheese, high fructose corn syrup loaded processed foods, growth hormone filled meats that are purchased from large, corporate agro-businesses whose sole purpose is to squeeze every ounce of profit from whatever they make, using the cheapest ingredients they can find.

For a GOP that prides itself on individual freedoms, it’s really ironic that they will rather take away people’s right to purchase their own foods and replace it with foods that the government picks for you each month. It’s as if the government is saying they know what’s best for you and that they cannot trust you to make your own decisions regarding what you want to eat or feed your family. However, the same GOP are quick to scream socialized medicine when the government tried to intervene in the healthcare market. There, their argument was that people should be able to make their own healthcare decisions and pick their own doctors. Yet when it comes to food stamps, they are OK with the government deciding what people should eat – just because they are receiving government assistance to buy food.

When you look deep into this idea, the primary motivation is the disdain some in the GOP have towards people who receive government assistance. Since the perception is that people on food stamps are freeloaders, it’s easy for the GOP to propose that it is OK to decide what people on food stamps can eat since they don’t deserve the help in the first place. This is not an attempt to make the program better since experts overwhelmingly agree this is a bad idea. Part of the motivation is ignorance of the statistics surrounding people who are on the program. There is this perception that majority of people on SNAP are idle freeloaders when the reality is that most are families with children and most SNAP households have a working adult. The main issue is that these people are not making enough money to feed themselves and their children.

Drug Testing of Food Stamps Recipients

The most recent idea proposed by President Trump to cut the food stamps program is to Drug Test recipients of the program. This has long been a conservative pet project. Again, this is borne out of ignorance of who is on food stamps. The right-wing websites like Breitbart and The Blaze have been pushing this idea that people on food stamps are just taking the taxpayers for a ride and that they just don’t want to work. They have this picture in their minds of people sitting around doing drugs and using the government as their piggy bank, living off welfare and getting food stamps. They, therefore, think that if you introduce drug testing for food stamps applicants, you will either deter these drug users from taking advantage of the government or you will catch them through drug testing and deny them food stamps. The reality is that states that have actually tried drug testing of welfare and SNAP recipients have actually discovered that it is a complete waste of time, as shown in this article. The government will actually end up wasting a lot of money chasing a goal that will not be achieved. That’s because the caricature painted by conservatives about food stamps recipients simply does not exist.

Are there people who abuse the SNAP program? Of course, there are. Like every government program, there are people who would want to take advantage. However, the facts of the SNAP program points to a program that is actually overwhelmingly helping those who need it most – families with children, the elderly and the disabled. Able-bodied adults without dependents only constitute 5% of the program population. In addition, food stamps have helped lift people out of poverty.

Therefore, even though the program is a target of the President, the good news is that Democrats in the Senate have been ready to block any attempts to gut this vital part of the safety net, including any food stamp cuts for 2018, and that’s good news for all people who depend on SNAP.

Apr 21, 2018