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Food Stamps

Trump administration wants to restrict Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Proposed Bill and possible effects

  • In its efforts implement huge cuts in the Federal assistance to the people under the poverty line, the Trump administration wants to tighten even further previous limitations on who is eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • According to a proposed bill by the Trump administration in December 2018 revealed that it plans to restrict SNAP benefits to increase employment opportunities. The research suggests otherwise, as the data shows that most of the adult individual beneficiaries of the program are employed.
  • According to the US Department of Agriculture, under this proposed Trump Administration Rule, it is estimated that out of 42 million Americans, around 2.8 million could be denied this vital nutrition assistance. This restriction, in addition to the individuals, would also apply to those parents who do not pay child support. Experts believe as a result of this new Plan many poor families could also go without food.

Waivers by the states

  • The Republicans claimed that the bill is aimed to encourage self-sufficiency among the able-bodied unemployed individuals, but the research says that most of them are employed and qualify through waivers. The SNAP requires adults between the age of 18 to 49 to work at least 20 hours weekly with an exception in the States with high unemployment rates where they can waive this requirement.
  • Under this new rule, it would be harder for the State administrations to offer these waivers. The reforms, in addition to the elimination of the waivers also include limiting the duration of waivers and setting localized employment standards.
  • Like a few of other reform agendas of Trump administration, this is also controversial and Democrats have threatened legal action against the Agriculture Department.

Government’s point

  • Earlier in May 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has asked states to start implementing a corrective measure that according to specialists would result in more low-income families negatively affected. In a memorandum, regional directors are recommended to debar parents who fail to pay child support from participating in the SNAP.
  • The Trump administration’s argument is that the policy would force uncooperative parents to cooperate with child support organizations. In reality, it would also risk denying benefits to some of the 18 million low-income children who receive SNAP benefits, many living in households in the child support program.
  • The secretary of Agriculture, on the other hand, said, “We want states to take action to ensure that SNAP and child support work together to help children. Increasing the number of states that implement child support cooperation requirements will benefit families, help non-custodial parents assume responsibility for the well-being and stability of their children, and provide more children with the support they deserve.”


Experts’ viewpoint

  • The experts and rights’ advocates believe pronounce this strategy as not only ineffective, but its logic is deeply inconsistent as well. Research reflects that noncompliant SNAP non-custodial parents, failing to pay their child support, do so due to their inability to pay—the same reason they need SNAP in the first place.
  • Furthermore, the policy deals with a problem that many researchers state, is simply not there: A 2014 study of Utah’s program established that almost 70 percent of SNAP parents are already paying child support. Those not paying quoted reasons other than the non-custodial parent’s refusal.
  • According to scrutiny from a leading think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the average SNAP family unit receiving child support gets about $340 a month from the non-custodial parent, but many complement this income with other forms of support.
  • In the year 2019, six states already made the requirement obligatory, and seven had withdrawn it, declaring the policy’s ineffectiveness and administrative trouble.
  • At the same time, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that implementing the nationwide disqualification exercise would cost the state agencies $3.5 billion during a decade, more than that of any new child support payments.
  • The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) expressed their serious reservations about the likelihood of this provision’s increasing child support program and rather declared that it will certainly result in many deserving families losing SNAP benefits endangering their food security.
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