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Danziger: War On Christmas

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Perdue Will Cut Food Stamps, Free Lunch For Millions Of Kids

The Department of Agriculture proposed a new rule that would kick roughly three million people off food stamps, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The new rule, meant to tighten eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, the official name for food stamps), would also mean a quarter of a million children would no longer receive free lunch at school, ThinkProgress reported.

The proposed rule aims to end automatic eligibility for food stamps by individuals and families already receiving state or federal assistance. It also imposes an assets test on food stamp recipients, meaning families who may have money in a savings account would no longer be eligible.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue did hot hide why the Trump administration is willing to put millions of people at risk of going hungry.

“This proposal will save money and preserve the integrity of the program,” Perdue said. The administration claims the new rule, if implemented, would save $2.5 billion.

Some members of Congress are not buying the administration’s budgetary concerns, and are focused on the human cost of such a rule.

“The same administration that gave a $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the richest people in this country is now attacking a program that millions of families, including 1.4 million low-income veterans, rely on,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in response to the proposed rule.

“This proposal is yet another attempt by this Administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement. “This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance.”

Advocacy experts also weighed in, noting the new Trump rule would hurt working families.

“Instead of punishing working families if they work more hours or penalizing seniors and people with disabilities who save for emergencies, the president should seek to assist them with policies that help them afford the basics and save for the future,” Stacy Dean, vice president of food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told the Post.

This is not the first time the Trump administration has targeted working families with food stamp cuts. In December, Trump begged Congress to implement tougher requirements on the program in the farm bill, which governs the SNAP program. His efforts failed, but that did not stop the Trump administration from trying to find more ways to punish those most in need.

This latest rule is not final, and must go through a mandatory comment period before it is implemented. In her statement, Stabenow advised the administration to stop trying to meddle with the program Congress put into law.

“The Administration should stop undermining the intent of Congress and instead focus on implementing the bipartisan Farm Bill that the President signed into law,” Stabenow said.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Trump Preparing To Take Food Stamps Away From 750,000 Americans

When Americans are struggling, you can always depend on Trump to kick them while they’re down.

Right before Christmas, the Trump administration proposed a draconian new rule that would kick about 750,000 Americans off of food stamps. The public comment period for that rule is ending Tuesday, NPR reports — and if the final rule looks like the proposed one, three-quarters of a million people are likely to lose their badly needed food assistance later this year.

Even more people, likely millions, would lose their food stamps or have their benefits slashed under Trump’s proposed budget. But unlike that budget, which is unlikely to ever become law, this rule change by Trump’s Department of Agriculture can and will hurt a lot of people very soon.

Under current rules, the overwhelming majority of able-bodied adults who receive food stamps for more than three months must also work, volunteer, or get job training for at least 20 hours a week.

But not everyone lives in an area where jobs — or even job-training programs — are easy to find. That’s why states whose unemployment rates are at least 20 percent higher than the national rate can apply to waive the work requirement, so that families can keep putting food on the table even during a localized economic downturn.

Trump wants to change all that. And Trump Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has a disgusting justification for taking food out of Americans’ mouths: “We believe the purpose of our welfare system should help people to become independent rather than permanent dependency,” he recently told the House Agriculture Committee.

In other words, Perdue thinks helping people feed themselves while they look for a job promotes “dependency,” and that starving them will magically encourage them to “become independent” and find other income sources faster.

It’s important to note that nobody is living large off food stamps. The average benefit per person is about $126 a month, or $1.40 per meal. Many people who rely on food stamps also have to rely on charities like food pantries in order to get enough to eat every month.

And despite Perdue’s gross, ill-informed claims about “permanent dependency,” the average beneficiary stays on the program for just seven to nine months.

The rule change is also yet another end-run around Congress, much like Trump’s move to declare a fake “national emergency” to get funding for his racist border wall. Trump’s team proposed the rule change right after Congress refused to pass the same proposal — and Democrats in Congress have threatened to sue if the rule change goes into effect, because they say it’s an abuse of executive power to override Congress’ power of the purse.

Between this proposal and the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on health care, you could be forgiven for thinking Republicans want people who aren’t wealthy to die faster.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

IMAGE: A local food pantry with supplies for hungry families.

 

Trump Budget Would Cut Food And Health Care For Millions

Trump’s budget for the next fiscal year was released on Monday, and it’s just as bad as you can imagine.

In it, Trump proposes gutting social safety-net programs, like food stamps, while at the same time working to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the same health care bill Republicans failed to pass in 2017, which would kick 21 million Americans off the insurance rolls.

Trump’s budget also proposes further health care cuts, including nixing zero-premium plans on the ACA exchanges and demanding that all Americans “contribute something.” That could raise costs for millions of poorer Americans who currently pay $0 in health care subsidies in the ACA exchange.

Health care advocates have panned Trump’s proposals, including the Federation of American Hospitals, which said Trump’s proposed changes would have a “devastating” impact on seniors.

On top of health care cuts, Trump also proposed slashing $220 billion over the next 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — better known as food stamps.

That’s a huge cut from a program that helps the poorest Americans eat.

In all, Trump’s budget proposes cutting $327 billion from social safety net programs over the next 10 years.

Of course, because Democrats have control of the House, a repeal of the ACA and massive cuts to the social safety net won’t happen in the next two years.

But Trump’s budget makes his priorities clear: He wants to spend billions on his needless border wall and jails for immigrants, all while cutting health care and other vital benefits to millions of Americans.

“The president’s budget is a continuation of the administration’s years-long war on Americans’ health care and a return to the failed policy of repeal – exactly what Americans voted against in 2018,” Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, said in a statement.

Published with permission of The American Independent.