Slash that safety net

The Trump administration wants to make more poor people starve.

The Trump administration wants to change the way states determine who qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, also known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 3 million people would lose their food assistance as a result.

The administration says it wants to close what it calls a “loophole” that allows states to give benefits to those would not otherwise be eligible by raising or eliminating income and asset limits. Forty states and the Washington, D.C., now take advantage of this option, and have done so for many years.

“This proposal will not only save money, but more importantly it preserves the integrity of the program while ensuring nutrition assistance programs serve those most in need,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in announcing the proposed rule, published in the Federal Register. His agency estimates the change would likely save $2.5 billion a year.

Which is to say, it will withhold $2.5 billion worth of food from poor people. What a goal for a rich country!

But proponents of the current system say it helps low-income families who work, but have huge child care, housing and other expenses that leave them with insufficient money to buy food.

Let’s not forget, Senate Republicans refused to take up a bill to raise the minimum wage passed by the House last week. The minimum wage is far below a living wage, mostly because housing and child care are so expensive. An enormous chunk of the population don’t make a living wage and do have sky-high housing and child care expenses. Trump and his gang want to make them even worse off.

The proposed rule change is one of several the administration has made or is considering that restricts safety net programs for low-income individuals and families.

Because that’s what we need to do: not create programs that lift people out of poverty but tweak the few existing programs to push people down into poverty even more firmly.

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