Political Editors / Dec. 5, 2019

Trump Tightens Food-Stamp Work Requirements

New USDA rule change will lead to fewer able-bodied adults receiving food stamps.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced a rule change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — a.k.a. food stamps — that will go into effect on April 1, 2020. The new rule is intended to prevent able-bodied adults from abusing the federal food-stamp program. The administration estimates that the change will affect roughly 1.1 million people, and save taxpayers $12.8 billion over the next decade, while at the same time encouraging more people to find jobs during a time of historically low unemployment and seven million unfilled jobs.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue explained, “This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans reenter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.” The USDA rule applies to adults ages 18 to 49 who are able-bodied without any dependents, limiting their SNAP benefits to three months, unless they are working or training for at least 20 hours a week. This rule does not change; what does change is the flexibility states have to grant SNAP waivers.

The new rule will limit the ability of states to use loopholes to get around the SNAP requirements. Previously, states were allowed to grant waivers to the SNAP rule in areas that were experiencing unemployment rates 20% higher than the national rate. Furthermore, states were given flexibility by the USDA in granting SNAP waivers. The Wall Street Journal reports, “The new rule requires the unemployment rate to be 6% or higher for states to issue such waivers. The rule also curbs the amount of discretionary exemptions from federal work requirements that states can issue.”

“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government,” said our Constitution’s author, James Madison. The absolute bare minimum the Trump administration can do to work toward that ideal is to require able-bodied adults without dependents to look for jobs instead of handouts.

(Edited — waivers, not wavers.)

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