Food stamps: Cutting 3 million recipients
“The Trump administration is kicking 3.1 million people off food stamps,” said Dylan Matthews in Vox.com. Since House Democrats wouldn’t approve of cuts, the White House is altering a rule that helps needy people receive benefits from the program “more easily and quickly.” Currently, those who apply for other forms of public assistance can be automatically enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. This policy has enabled states to provide food stamps to people who have more than the federal limits of $2,250 to $3,500 in savings. Advocates say many of the working poor suffer from “food insecurity” despite having jobs and some savings; not knowing if they’ll be able to eat breakfast or dinner results in chronic stress and illness that winds up costing taxpayers more in the end than SNAP would.
This rule change is “common sense,” not “cruelty,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. In theory, the practice of cross-eligibility was a good idea intended to “trim administrative hassle and avoid repeating eligibility tests” for welfare applicants. In practice, it has allowed states greedy for federal dollars to do end runs around the rules and “keep as many people as possible on the dole regardless of need.” In some cases, officials counted passing out a brochure, or calling a toll-free hotline number for child care or transportation assistance, as tantamount to the applicants receiving benefits, thus cross-qualifying them for food stamps as well. The closure of this loophole will prevent “a blatant abuse of public resources” and save taxpayers $9.4 billion over five years.
The charge of widespread abuse is a lie, said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times. The Congressional Research Service has found that SNAP’s fraud rate is only 0.57 percent. The Republican myth about undeserving food-stamp freeloaders is largely based on a stunt by Minnesota millionaire Rob Undersander, who collected about $5,300 over 19 months in SNAP benefits to make a point. But the only thing Undersander proved is that “a determined individual can commit fraud on the U.S. government. That’s not news.” There is a perverse irony in Trump’s SNAP cuts, said David Super in The New York Times. The money saved will help offset a nearly $2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the rich. Once again, the burden of paying for the profligacy of our elected leaders falls “on those least able to afford it.”