With the newly-finalized rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Trump administration is set to implement SNAP restrictions that will save American taxpayer $7.9 billion in food stamp expenditures over the next five years. The rule, which is (of course) coming under intense criticism from the left, will require able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 to either work, attend school, receive job training, or volunteer if they wish to continue getting food stamps beyond a three-month period. People over the age of 50 and those who are disabled, pregnant, or caring for children at home are exempt from the requirements.
The USDA reports that the rule was needed because of record-low unemployment numbers, which have left seven million job openings on the table and have reduced any reasonable need for able-bodied adults to rely solely on government welfare.
“We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work. This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”
The USDA estimates that nearly 800,000 people will fall off the food stamp rolls when the rule goes into effect.
Let the screaming begin.
“The decision to finalize a rule taking food from nearly two million of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens the week following Thanksgiving, and at the height of the holiday season, reveals this Administration’s callous and cruel intentions,” whined Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). “This is an unacceptable escalation of the Administration’s war on people in need, and it comes during a time when too many are forced to stretch already-thin budgets to make ends meet. The USDA is the Grinch that stole Christmas. Shame on them.”
The rule, of course, doesn’t go into effect until April, making most of Fudge’s statement a meaningless non sequitur.
“The overall unemployment rate is really a measure of the whole labor market and not people without a high school diploma who are incredibly poor and may lack transportation,” said Stacey Dean of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “We’re talking about a different group who just face a very different labor market.”
Not to be flippant, but how can you go to the grocery store to spend your food stamps if you lack transportation?
More to the point, what does Dean (and Fudge, for that matter) suggest? That we just give these people – able-bodied, healthy Americans, one and all – free food for life? They don’t have to lift a finger? Why do they get to sit on their duff and benefit from the rest of the country that gets up every morning and goes to work for their daily bread?
We’ve got no problem with people taking advantage of a few months of food stamps to make ends meet when they run into a tough jam. It happens. But there’s no reason on earth we should fund someone’s decision to simply live a life of unending leisure. Where there’s a will to work, there’s a way. And with the administration’s new food stamp requirements, we’d have to imagine that a whole lot of people are about to discover a will they didn’t know they had.