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Trump SNAP Rules "Go Out of Their Way to be Cruel"

In 2017, SNAP benefits kept an estimated 3.4 million Americans out of poverty. (kc0uvb/Pixabay)
In 2017, SNAP benefits kept an estimated 3.4 million Americans out of poverty. (kc0uvb/Pixabay)
December 24, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After failing to get deep cuts to nutrition assistance through Congress, President Donald Trump now seems to want to get them by changing the rules.

Trump had backed a Republican plan that critics warned would have ended SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, for 2 million Americans and school meal access for 265,000 children. Congress rejected those changes when it passed the Farm Bill last week.

Now, Trump has proposed new rules restricting states' ability to provide SNAP benefits to childless adults living in high-unemployment areas who are struggling to find work. Rebecca Vallas, vice president of the poverty team at the Center for American Progress, said the rules would force hundreds of thousands of unemployed SNAP participants to lose the help they need to put food on the table.

"Ultimately, he failed to gut food stamps in the Farm Bill, and so now he's sidestepping Congress and trying unilaterally to slash food assistance by fiat,” Vallas said. “And he's doing that just days before Christmas."

The administration has pointed out that unemployment is at record low levels and said the new rules would save $15 billion over 10 years. More than 120,000 West Virginia households receive SNAP benefits.

Vallas insisted a better approach would be to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been set at $7.25 an hour for the past ten years. She said raising it to just $12 an hour would make a huge difference.

"That would save $53 billion in nutrition assistance over the coming decade,” she said. “And it would do so by ensuring that workers earn enough to afford food."

The administration's figures show that under the proposed rule change, more than three-quarters of a million unemployed people would lose SNAP benefits. Vallas added research has shown that taking food benefits away from workers who can't meet strict work-reporting requirements is counterproductive.

"When workers have access to basics like food and housing and health care, they're better able to work and they have higher earnings,” she said.

Once the rules are published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day period for public comment before they could be put into effect.

More information is available at CBPP.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV