Erecting Barriers for Hard-Working People—Rather than Truly Helping Them

President Trump signed an executive order on “welfare reform” that purports to promote economic mobility but would only create additional obstacles and burdens for people seeking to support themselves and their families through low-wage work.

The following statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP):

“President Trump’s executive order is based on grossly inaccurate stereotypes about the workers, children, parents, and seniors who are helped by key programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and housing assistance. It also reflects a complete misunderstanding of the realities of today’s labor market. The order directs agencies to seek ways to make it harder to access these programs—even though research shows that adequate nutrition, housing, and health care are critical for people to work, children to thrive, and communities to prosper.

“This order is the latest in the Trump Administration’s attacks on key basic needs programs. This proposal to cut help for everyday Americans contrasts sharply with the enactment last December of a huge tax cut that benefits the wealthiest among us.

“Earlier this year, the administration began approving state waiver requests to impose so-called work requirements as a condition of eligibility for health insurance under Medicaid. That means telling sick people to find work or lose health coverage—even though both common sense and the research evidence show that getting treatment helps people find jobs and keep them. The administration has also called for major changes to SNAP such as taking away states’ flexibility to suspend SNAP’s harsh time limit and imposing the time limit on millions of additional recipients. These SNAP proposals are expected to be included in the upcoming House Farm Bill.

“These requirements neither improve health nor create real employment opportunities for participants; they only act as barriers to receiving needed services, cut programs that we know work, and shred state budgets by taking away crucial federal help. We know that other programs with work requirements do not provide true job training that leads to meaningful work, but rather erect bureaucratic hurdles. Many people who will lose access because of draconian work requirements are already employed, but in jobs with part-time or seasonal hours and unpredictable schedules. Taking away people’s health care, housing, or food only makes them less healthy and less able to work.

“While the executive order itself does not change any policies, this is part of an overall campaign by the Trump Administration to characterize all means-tested government programs as “welfare” and to stigmatize those people who benefit from them. The truth is, these programs are the building blocks that support economic growth and make our communities and our country stronger.”

For more CLASP resources on work and public benefits, visit: