The Trump Administration is looking to change who is eligible to receive food stamps. The proposal wants to cut food stamp assistance to able-bodied adults without dependents. If this proposal passes, nearly 750,000 people would lose the benefits supplemented by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Four million receivers of food stamps fall into this category.
The administration hopes to pass this act, so that those who are taking advantage of government assistance will no longer be able to reap the benefits. Around three-fourths of those four million adults do not work. Sonny Perdue, the Agriculture Secretary, believes they have no reason to not work if they are capable to do so. Perdue claims that the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years. He emphasizes how welfare and government assistance should be a temporary dependence, not permanent.
Some would agree that this program is good when used the right way. People should not leech off of it and refuse to work, but if someone is actively searching for work or is working a job with low pay, they should be eligible to receive assistance. Yet, there are already bylaws in place with the program to avoid people taking advantage of it. In order to qualify for SNAP benefits, you must either be currently employed, involved in a training program for workers or you must be unable to work due to a variety of reasons including physical and mental welfare.
Another constraint that was added to the proposal dictates all the beneficiary has to be doing in order to continue receiving food stamps. The government will no longer provide food stamps to those who exceed the three month limit, unless they are a volunteer, receive job training or work at least twenty hours a week. This is already the law in many states, but areas of high unemployment often waive these precedents. If one is seeking employment, it can only count towards the twenty-hour requirement if it is paired with an education and training program.
The Trump Administration is desperately trying to crack down on excessive government assistance. Some Republican representatives do not understand why there is backlash against the proposed change. It is easy to change the rules of eligibility when you are not dependent on the service. It is crucial for low-income individuals and families. The Franciscan Center in Baltimore, Maryland gives clothing and hot lunches to in-need individuals. Those who come to the center require SNAP benefits for survival. This administration believes that they do not want to work or better themselves. This is a toxic and untrue statement. Many people receiving food stamps and government aid do want to work. One can have a college-level education and still be unemployed. Unemployment is a parasite that does not discriminate. There are many reasons one can become unemployed at any given time like getting fired or laid off, becoming chronically ill or factories offshoring to countries with cheap labor.
We, as a society, need to get rid of the stigma surrounding those that receive government assistance. They are not lazy. They want to work and earn an income. There is a small minority that sit around and collect the benefits, but the majority of those do not.
Another issue with the proposed cut is the use of the term “able-bodied.” The dictionary defines able-bodied as someone who is fit, strong, healthy and not physically disabled. I agree that if you are physically capable of working, you should. However, this does not take into account mental health. Someone can be physically fit but suffering from a mental illness such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. These mental illnesses can wreak havoc on one’s mind and lead to physical exhaustion. Sometimes, working while bearing the weight of mental health is next to impossible.
I see this proposal as a way for the elite to control the poor. The wealthy know that people need these benefits to survive. The usual narrative exaggerates how many able-bodied people refuse to work and just sit around collecting aid. If given a job, most of the SNAP recipients would be overjoyed to have received an offer of employment. SNAP and other forms of government aid should be temporary but individuals should not be cut from receiving them.
We all need a helping hand every now and then. I can see why they are pushing this proposal. We should always try to better government programs so they meet the needs of individuals. What we should not do is take away from those deserving of the assistance. If the Trump Administration wishes to change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, then serious consideration for the beneficiaries should not be taken lightly. The government does not need to gamble with their livelihood.