You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch; but you’ve got nothing on Mr. Trump.
Having been shot down last year in his attempt to cut millions of low-income Americans from the rolls of food stamp recipients, the man who boasts more than anyone about how much he has, has tried, tried again, and this time, succeeded, just in time for the holidays.
That’s right. Even Republicans in Congress, who have time and again defended the president’s every slur, lie and potentially unconstitutional attempt to enrich himself and his family at the public trough, wouldn’t cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Payments to the poor. But Trump would. And has.
His administration is adopting three new rules: one cutting off most state waivers on the program’s work requirements; a second making it more burdensome for states to assess eligibility and eliminating automatic eligibility for those who qualify for other aid; and a third tying eligibility to utility assistance, and not in a good way.
The first rule, finalized Dec. 4, is expected to cut off aid to 688,000 needy Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program. It would only allow waivers in areas where the unemployment rate is over 6 percent.
The second rule attacks the ability of states to base food stamp eligibility on other needs-based criteria (called “categorical eligibility”) and to allow families to have up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level in assets.
The third pits SNAP eligibility against assistance with utilities, essentially telling low-income Americans to choose between food and heat or food and electricity. It would, in some cases, increase one or the other, but for most recipients, the combined aid would drop.
As many as 3.7 million low-income people could be cut from the program by the three changes, the Urban Institute says. Millions more would experience reductions in monthly benefits and 982,000 students would lose automatic access to free or reduced-price school meals, The Washington Post reported.
Though the moves would obviously save money, Trump’s secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, painted the plan not as a cost-cutting measure, but rather as a tough-love one. Gotta get those poor to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, you know, assuming they don’t have to sell their boots to feed their children.
The longstanding and thoroughly disproved assumption that poor Americans aren’t willing to work to better their lives so long as someone — the government — is willing to help them out is not only erroneous, it’s insulting. Maybe not “Mexicans are rapists,” “shithole countries,” “She’s not attractive enough for me to sexually assault” insulting, but pretty much par for the course.
Even the Grinch gave little Cindy Lou Who (who was no more than 2) a candy cane and tucked her back into bed. This administration would likely put her before an immigration judge to prove she belongs.
We think we’ve found a way the president can make good on his thus-far unfulfilled promise to bring back the U.S. coal industry: Just hang a big stocking by the White House chimney and wait for Dec. 25.