Trump Secretary: 3 million U.S. citizens need to go hungry to 'save money'
The Department of Agriculture proposed a new rule that would kick roughly 3 million people off food stamps, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The new rule, meant to tighten eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, the official name for food stamps), would also mean a quarter of a million children would no longer receive free lunch at school, ThinkProgress reported.
The proposed rule aims to end automatic eligibility for food stamps by individuals and families already receiving state or federal assistance. It also imposes an assets test on food stamp recipients, meaning families who may have money in a savings account would no longer be eligible.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue did hot hide why the Trump administration is willing to put millions of people at risk of going hungry.
"This proposal will save money and preserve the integrity of the program," Perdue said. The administration claims the new rule, if implemented, would save $2.5 billion.
Some members of Congress are not buying the administration's budgetary concerns, and are focused on the human cost of such a rule.
"The same administration that gave a $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the richest people in this country is now attacking a program that millions of families, including 1.4 million low-income veterans, rely on," Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, said in response to the proposed rule.
"This proposal is yet another attempt by this Administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement. "This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance."
Advocacy experts also weighed in, noting the new Trump rule would hurt working families.
"Instead of punishing working families if they work more hours or penalizing seniors and people with disabilities who save for emergencies, the president should seek to assist them with policies that help them afford the basics and save for the future," Stacy Dean, vice president of food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told the Post.
This is not the first time the Trump administration has targeted working families with food stamp cuts. In December, Trump begged Congress to implement tougher requirements on the program in the farm bill, which governs the SNAP program. His efforts failed, but that did not stop the Trump administration from trying to find more ways to punish those most in need.
This latest rule is not final, and must go through a mandatory comment period before it is implemented. In her statement, Stabenow advised the administration to stop trying to meddle with the program Congress put into law.
"The Administration should stop undermining the intent of Congress and instead focus on implementing the bipartisan Farm Bill that the President signed into law," Stabenow said.
Published with permission of The American Independent. Dan Desai Martin.