Trump Just Dynamited the Food Stamp Program

Trump Just Dynamited the Food Stamp Program

Trump Just Dynamited the Food Stamp Program

This man’s cruelty is boundless. He also just appointed as his homelessness czar a man who tried to get cities to ban charities from feeding the homeless.


The Signal this Friday is the appalling spectacle of millions of Americans’ being deliberately cast into hunger by the federal government.

This week, the Trump administration formally published its punitive new vision of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rules, which were first proposed earlier this year, essentially roll back an exception, crafted in the wake of the 2008 crash, that allows able-bodied adults to claim food stamps for more than three months in any three-year period if the area they live in has over 10 percent unemployment, or if their state has decided to issue county-by-county waivers to this requirement.

As of next April, the government won’t permit the granting of waivers to any counties with less than 6 percent unemployment. To continue being eligible for food stamps in these that are losing their waivers, recipients will either have to work or enroll in “work programs,” presumably somewhat akin to the make-work systems created in the wake of welfare reform of 1996.

The US Agriculture Department, which administers the program, estimates that 688,000 people will lose their SNAP benefits as a result. But it gets worse: This is just the first of a series of changes to SNAP the administration is now aggressively pushing. As I wrote in my last column, if all the changes kick in, ultimately many millions of Americans will either lose access to food stamps or end up with extreme reductions in the value of the food stamps they receive.

Ironically, many of the states that will be hit worst are GOP strongholds in the South: Florida, Georgia, and Texas all stand to see hundreds of thousands of residents losing benefits over the coming years. Maybe Trump was right that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his base wouldn’t abandon him. We’ll see how they react when they realize he’s taking away their ability to feed themselves and their families.

This is in keeping with an increasingly draconian vision of the social safety net. Over the past months, HUD has refused to release “point in time” counts of homeless populations in urban centers, the estimates of which are used by states such as California to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to localities to tackle homelessness. This week California Governor Gavin Newsom blasted the Trump administration for playing politics by refusing to certify the numbers provided by California cities. Having lost patience with the process, he simply began releasing hundreds of millions of dollars to localities even without federal approval.

Meanwhile, in a further indication that the administration is looking to penalize rather than help the homeless, Trump appointed Robert Marbut to head an interagency council on homelessness. Marbut’s previous claim to fame, as a consultant, was pushing cities to pass ordinances banning charity groups from feeding the homeless on city streets. Matthew Doherty, the Obama appointee who was kicked out to make way for Marbut, has been hired by California.

And the Noise? The horrendous sound of California Representative Tom McClintock demanding of law professors testifying in the impeachment inquiry whether they voted for Trump. The bleat of Trump calling French President Emmanuel Macron “nasty” and Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau “two-faced.” The inanity of Trump’s suggesting a 100 percent tariff on French goods sold in the United States. And the jet-engine roar signifying that a sulking American leader is heading home early from the London NATO summit after several other presidents and premiers were caught on a hot mic mocking the petulant, spoiled, man-child they had spent the past couple days trying to humor and placate.

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read. It’s just one of many examples of incisive, deeply-reported journalism we publish—journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media. For nearly 160 years, The Nation has spoken truth to power and shone a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

In a critical election year as well as a time of media austerity, independent journalism needs your continued support. The best way to do this is with a recurring donation. This month, we are asking readers like you who value truth and democracy to step up and support The Nation with a monthly contribution. We call these monthly donors Sustainers, a small but mighty group of supporters who ensure our team of writers, editors, and fact-checkers have the resources they need to report on breaking news, investigative feature stories that often take weeks or months to report, and much more.

There’s a lot to talk about in the coming months, from the presidential election and Supreme Court battles to the fight for bodily autonomy. We’ll cover all these issues and more, but this is only made possible with support from sustaining donors. Donate today—any amount you can spare each month is appreciated, even just the price of a cup of coffee.

The Nation does not bow to the interests of a corporate owner or advertisers—we answer only to readers like you who make our work possible. Set up a recurring donation today and ensure we can continue to hold the powerful accountable.

Thank you for your generosity.

Ad Policy