The Trump administration has finalized the implementation of new work requirement rules that would cut food stamp benefits for 700,000 Americans. The average food stamp payout is $36 per month.
Though the Trump administration estimates that less than 700,000 people will be affected by their policy changes, the Urban Institute estimates that the administration’s new rules will cause 3.7 million poor people to lose food stamps.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Brandon Lipps, the deputy undersecretary for the USDA’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, spoke with reporters for under 20 minutes regarding the changes. The rule changes will take effect on April 1, 2020.
The work requirement rule change will cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
There are over 40 million people in the U.S. living in poverty — one of every seven Americans and 12 percent of the total population. In the U.S., 27 percent of African Americans live in poverty and 46 percent of African American children (under age 6) live in poverty, compared to 14.5 percent of white children.
“We’re taking action to reform our SNAP program in order to restore the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program. Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch. That’s the commitment behind SNAP, but, like other welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life,” Secretary Perdue told reporters.
“Trump has called people liars and maniacs, caged children, and cut food stamps, and tried to take away health insurance and let people die. But Republicans are outraged that a law professor used his son’s name in an analogy?” wrote Rev. Dr. William Barber, referring to an exchange at a Dec. 4 impeachment hearing. Barber has been focused on a new age “poor people’s campaign” that mirrors the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.
“This is cruel and disgraceful. Donald Trump will happily give millions of dollars in tax breaks to his billionaire buddies — but he’s making it harder for struggling families to be able to eat. I’ll reverse this shameful policy,” wrote 2020 presidential candidate and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
The rule change would limit states and force them to restrict food stamp use to areas that have a 6 percent unemployment rate or higher. The national unemployment rate in October was 3.6 percent.
Income inequality and cuts to poverty programs are likely to be an issue in the 2020 campaign.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter @LVBurke.