Trump Wants to End States’ Power to Make Food Stamps More Accessible During Recessions
The president, who often stresses the need for states to have more flexibility, wants to give them less when it comes to food stamps.
BY J.B. WOGAN | FEBRUARY 14, 2018
People lined up to talk with caseworkers at the Illinois Department of Human Services in 2010. Due to the recession, the agency had higher demand for services than normal. (AP/David Mercer)
The Trump administration, which often stresses the need for states to have more flexibility, wants to give them less when it comes to food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The federal government requires childless, able-bodied SNAP recipients to spend 20 hours a week working (paid or unpaid) or participating in a state-approved work or training program. If people fail to meet that requirement, they can only get food stamps for a total of three months in a three-year period. States are able to waive these rules, though, during economic downturns when unemployment is high.
President Trump’s budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which needs approval from Congress to become law, would take away their ability to make those exceptions and would impose work conditions on more people.
The USDA estimated that the work-related changes alone would reduce spending by $26.9 billion over 10 years. Those savings would largely come from people being kicked off the program.
Anti-hunger advocates question whether tougher work requirements would actually increase people’s employment and earnings.