Trump administration pursues rule that would remove 3.1 million people from food stamps

girl pays for her mother's groceries using Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) tokens, more commonly known as Food Stamps, at the GrowNYC Greenmarket in Union Square on September 18, 2013 in New York City. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Trump administration pursues rule that would remove 3.1 million people from food stamps

  • Currently, 43 US states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Current rules allow people to access SNAP benefits worth thousands of dollars for two years without going through robust eligibility reviews

CHICAGO: The Trump administration on Tuesday will propose a rule to tighten food stamp restrictions that would cut about 3.1 million people from the program, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials said.

Currently, 43 US states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.

But the agency wants to require people who receive TANF benefits to pass a review of their income and assets to determine whether they are eligible for free food from SNAP, officials said.

If enacted, the rule would save the federal government about $2.5 billion a year by removing people from SNAP, according to the USDA.
US President Donald Trump has argued that many Americans now using SNAP do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment, and should be removed as a way to save taxpayers as much as $15 billion.

“Some states are taking advantage of loopholes that allow people to receive the SNAP benefits who would otherwise not qualify and for which they are not entitled,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters on a conference call on Monday.

SNAP provides free food to some 40 million Americans, or about 12% of the total US population.
A Trump-backed effort to pass new restrictions through the Farm Bill was blocked by Congress last year, following a months-long, partisan debate.

The USDA does not need congressional approval, however, to stop states from automatically allowing recipients of TANF benefits to become eligible for SNAP, said Brandon Lipps, a USDA acting deputy undersecretary.

Current rules allow people to access SNAP benefits worth thousands of dollars for two years without going through robust eligibility reviews, he told reporters on the call.

“Unfortunately, automatic eligibility has expanded to allow even millionaires and others who simply receive a TANF-funded brochure to become eligible for SNAP when they clearly don’t need it,” Lipps said.

The USDA will accept public comment on the proposed rule change. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in December estimated the rule could save the federal government $8.1 billion from 2019 to 2028, lower than the USDA’s estimate.

In 2016, the CBO said arguments against the change included concerns that it would eliminate benefits for households in difficult financial situations and increase the complexity and time involved in verifying information on SNAP applications.


Trump backs Johnson, sends mixed signals on China at G7

Updated 59 sec ago

Trump backs Johnson, sends mixed signals on China at G7

  • “He’s going to be a fantastic prime minister,” Trump said
  • Trump also appeared to back off from a threatened further escalation in his battle with China

BIARRITZ: US President Donald Trump on Sunday backed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the “right man” for Brexit and sent mixed signals about his trade war with China at a G7 summit dominated by worries about the global economy.
Johnson and Trump were on obviously friendly terms as they sat down for a working breakfast in the southern French resort of Biarritz where Group of Seven leaders are gathering this weekend.
“He’s going to be a fantastic prime minister,” Trump said in their first meeting since Johnson took office last month.
Asked what his advice was for Brexit, Trump replied: “He needs no advice. He’s the right man for the job. I’ve been saying that for a long time.”
In the lead-up to the talks, Johnson had appeared at pains to distance himself from Trump after facing accusations in the past of being too cosy with the American leader.
And at their meeting, Johnson again pressed a common message from European leaders at the summit about Trump’s escalating trade war with China.
“Just to register a faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war — we are in favor of trade peace on the whole,” Johnson told Trump.
The 73-year-old US leader promised Johnson “very big trade deal, bigger than we’ve ever had,” but couldn’t resist another undiplomatic dig at the European Union.
Trump compared it to an “anchor around their ankle.”
But to the relief of his partners, Trump also appeared to back off from a threatened further escalation in his battle with China.
“I think they respect the trade war. It has to happen,” Trump told reporters.
Asked whether he was having second thoughts, he replied: “I have second thoughts about everything.”
The Basque resort of Biarritz, which at this time of year usually teems with surfers and sunbathers, has been turned into a fortress for the G7 event with over 13,000 police on duty.
An anti-capitalism demonstration in nearby Bayonne turned ugly Saturday night when the crowd of several hundred tried to get through police barricades and was repelled with water cannon and tear gas.
Earlier on Saturday, organizers in the French border town of Hendaye said 15,000 people rallied in a peaceful march over the Bidassoa River toward the Spanish town of Irun.
G7 summits, gathering Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, were once a meeting of like-minded allies, but they have become a diplomatic battlefield in the Trump era.
“This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” EU Council president Donald Tusk said on Saturday.
Over an open dinner dinner of red tuna at the foot of a landmark lighthouse in the famed surf town of Biarritz, the leaders began talks on Saturday night attempting to narrow their differences.
The US-China trade war, but also fires in the Amazon and the Iranian nuclear crisis, were on the menu.
“You did very well last night President Macron,” Johnson told his French host as the leaders met for a session to discuss the world economy. “That was a difficult one.”
In a sign of the difficulties, Macron thought he had agreed a common G7 position on Iran to try to find a way out of the current impasse that has seen tensions spiral in the Middle East.
Macron said in an interview to French television that they had “agreed on what to say to Iran.”
But Trump, who has previously accused Macron of sending “mixed signals” to Iran, denied it.
“We’ll do our own outreach. But you can’t stop people from talking. If they want to talk, they can talk,” he said.
In a radical break from previous meetings of the elite club, there is to be no final statement at the end of the talks on Monday, an admission of lowered expectations.
Macron has also invited several world leaders from outside the G7 such as India’s Narendra Modi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi who will join the meeting on Sunday.
Macron is also pushing for action against fires in the Amazon rainforest, despite Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s angry response to what he sees as outside interference.