A comprehensive effort to restrict access to the safety net

This again. Reward the rich and punish the poor.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.

Carson’s proposals, and other initiatives aimed at low-income Americans receiving federal assistance, amount to a comprehensive effort by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to restrict access to the safety net and reduce the levels of assistance for those who do qualify.

In other words, to punish the poor.

The initiative unveiled by Carson Wednesday would raise the rent for tenants in subsidized housing to 35 percent of gross income (or 35 percent of their earnings working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage), up from the current standard of 30 percent of adjusted income. About half of the 4.7 million families receiving housing benefits would be affected, HUD officials said.

The cap on rent for the poorest families would rise to about $150 a month — three times higher than the existing $50 ceiling. About 712,000 households would see their monthly rents rise to $150, the officials said.

“There is one inescapable imperative driving this reform effort,” Carson said in a call with reporters. “The current system isn’t working very well. Doing nothing is not an option.”

It’s not working very well because there is nowhere near enough of it, and most poor people are at the mercy of the “free market,” which means high rents or bad housing or both.

After failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2017, the Trump administration has started allowing states to impose work requirements on residents enrolled in Medicaid — a first in the history of the 53-year health care program.

Three states — Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas — have enacted Medicaid work requirements. Seven additional states have applied to do the same.

Kentucky says the changes will lead 95,000 people to lose Medicaid coverage over the next five years.

And I guess Kentucky sees that as a win?

The Trump administration also gave states permission to impose much higher premium payments and kick people off Medicaid for failing to pay. The Obama administration had permitted more limited versions of these policies for states during the expansion of Medicaid, but Trump officials approved changes aimed solely at reducing enrollment.

I hear they’re creating a new agency, the Screw the Poor Department. Rumor has it that Joe Arpaio will be the STP secretary.

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