There’s an old saying that pols on the left measure government “compassion” by how many folks are on the welfare rolls, while the right measures it by how many no longer need to be on the welfare rolls. That’s superficially accurate, when you’re talking about direct handouts like the SNAP (used to be food stamp) program, and during President Trump’s tenure, enrollment in that program is down. Dramatically. Excerpt:
While the Trump administration anticipated that the new rule would prospectively reduce the number of people on food stamps, the growth in employment has meant that the number of people on food stamps plummeted even under the old rule:
President Trump has overseen a drop of millions of food stamp beneficiaries even before his administration’s proposals for tightening eligibility take effect.
The administration sees it as an accomplishment that food stamp rolls have fallen by 17.5% as the economy has grown and said that further reforms to the benefits will aid families. Democrats and anti-poverty groups, though, warn that the administration’s proposals would further impoverish children, immigrants, and veterans.
Trump’s year-end list of “results” included the boast that “nearly 7 million Americans have been lifted off of food stamps,” which the administration credited to people “being lifted out of poverty as a result of today’s booming economy.”
Indeed, the latest data from the Department of Agriculture shows that 7.7 million fewer Americans receive food stamps now than did when Trump entered the White House. The Agriculture Department administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but the actual food stamp benefits are distributed by individual states.
It’s also correctly said that President Obama was known as the Food Stamp President. Under his administration, the Imperial government actually ran television and radio ads pushing the SNAP program, a truly unconscionable waste of taxpayer dollars hawking an Imperial handout.
Here, incidentally, is the rule change referenced above:
Under the old rules for food stamp eligibility, adults between 18 and 49, who were able to work and had no dependents, could receive only three months of food stamp benefits over a three year period if they did not meet a 20-hour-a-week minimum work requirement. The exception to the rule was that states with unemployment rates as low as 3.6% were able to waive the work requirement.
When Donald Trump came into office, he promised to shrink the number of food stamp recipients by tightening eligibility rules. He wisely waited, however, until the economy was stronger before implementing any major rules. Starting in 2020, the federal government significantly limits when states can exempt “work-eligible adults” who have no dependents from the steady employment requirement. Now, a county must have a 6% minimum unemployment rate before getting a waiver.
I’d make a lot more changes; for instance, I’d strictly limit the items that can be purchased by recipients of Imperial money to staple items such as ground meat, potatoes, sacked rice, beans and so forth. Don’t like it? Leverage yourself off Imperial handouts. People will whine that it’s not fair to tell people what they can and can’t eat, but as I’ve commented many times, if I’m paying for it, I damn well can and I damn well will.
The Trump Administration’s rule change is a start on reforming our horrendous Imperial welfare system. But that’s all it is – a start.