The abject cruelty of the Trump regime continues unabated. In their latest move today, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has come up with a change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)(Food Stamps) that could end up throwing more than three million recipients off the system. That means lots of hungry people and another kick in the nuts for people who are already suffering in the Trump economy, which is anything but the “strongest in history.
In announcing the new rules, USDA Acting Deputy Undersecretary Brandon Lipps noted that the agency has proposed to eliminate of a policy known as “Broad-based Categorical Eligibility” (BBCE). In addition to more stringent standards for eligibility, the new rules will require state program administrators to revert to old systems that do little more than add lots of additional paperwork, as well as require more staff hours. That means, though Lipps claims the new rules will save $2.5 billion every year, that is unsure, since no one knows if the USDA factored in the additional costs.
If three million people losing their ability to “put food on their family,” as Dubya once put it, isn’t cruel enough for you, it might be helpful to know that the rules will also kick well over a quarter-million children off of free school meals programs nationwide. While Lipps tried to claim that most would be eligible for reduced-price meals in their schools, they were unclear as to how they would notify parents of their need to re-apply for such programs.
It is quite possible these rules will never be implemented, especially since we’re n the brink of another election year, and it seems unlikely that a majority of Republicans will allow these to stand. The initial 60-day public-comment period begins on Wednesday, and it is likely it will attract a number of objections, primarily regarding the formula they will implement. Many policy specialists also believe the stringent nature of these changes will draw a lot of complaints from normally friendly Republican forces. The level of cruelty, when piled on to the children in jails and other humanitarian fiascos will likely cause a lot of Trump’s usual support to erode.
The BBCE system that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has chosen to rip apart is not an Obama-era device. It has been around for 20 years and it has traditionally received bipartisan support until vthe Trump insurgence. Under the rules currently in place, states can choose – but are never forced – to expand access to SNAP beyond the cheapskate-driven scope built into the federal legislation. As of now, 28 states, DC, and the territorial governments of Guam and the Virgin Islands have adopted the modest expansion of income limits BBCE allows. The current rules has allowed more than 409 jurisdictions to suspend “asset tests” in federal law. One such “asset test” denies SNAP money to many recipients if they manage to accumulate $2,000 in their personal savings accounts.
Of course, the cruelty is the point. Trump is worried abut nothing more than extending his term, and for him, that means appealing to the GOP base, who like nothing more than “owning liberals.” It’s what they live for. The entire purpose is doing things that make us on the left mad. Millions of people in red states will immediately become poorer than they already have been, and their children will be less likely to get the nutrition they need every day.
As noted, the cruelty is the point. If this goes into effect, the rules will also actively discourage workers from working more hours, or to take a job with better pay. They will also be actively discouraged from saving up for their child’s education or to pay medical bills. Those are never the stated goals, of course, but those are almost certainly the results. And the more we on the left object, the more likely Trump’s base is to support him.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to go after shit like this. What it means is, for every complaint we make about the shit Trump does, the more determined we have to be to show up and vote blue, no matter who. We not only need a new “president” (one that doesn’t have to have quotes an asterisk), but we also have to make sure we have a 60-vote Senate majority, too, or nothing will change.