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Thu Dec 5, 2019, 08:11 PM

Cuts to SNAP would disadvantage those seeking jobs

The Trump administration’s recent push to finalize new rules to tighten eligibility and reduce benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — also known as food stamps — is a solution in search of a problem.

And it’s a heartless, unnecessary and counter-productive one, at that.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule Wednesday — set to take effect April 1 — that would tighten the work requirements for certain adults to receive benefits by removing each state’s authority to set its own rules. The USDA also is working to finalize a rule that would remove state authority to consider the costs of utility payments in determining benefit levels and another that would remove nearly 1 million students from eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals.

Combined, according to a study recently released by the Urban Institute, the proposed administrative rule changes would mean 2.1 million U.S. households and 3.7 million people would lose their SNAP benefits; 3.1 million who still qualify would see an average loss of $32 to their monthly benefits; and 982,000 U.S. school children would lose their automatic eligibility for free and reduced-priced meals at school.

Rebuffed late in 2018 by Congress when similar cuts and restrictions were rejected as part of the budget deal, the Trump administration has now gone the route of rule-making to implement the changes, as it did recently in seeking to discourage legal immigrants from requesting public assistance — including food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid coverage — by threatening to disqualify them from consideration for permanent residency and citizenship.


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