Even before reforms, food stamp use declined drastically under Trump

President Trump entered office promising to change the rules so that the number of people receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as “food stamps”) would shrink. Trump finally made good on that promise in December, but his act was almost redundant, for recently released numbers show that his strong economy had already shrunk food stamp rolls.

Barack Obama got the nickname “the food-stamp president” because food stamp usage reached unparalleled heights during his administration. In his first two years in office, 12 million people were added to the already 28 million people receiving food stamps. By the time he left office, 44.2 million people in America were on food stamps.

Under the old rules for food stamp eligibility, adults between 18 and 49, who were able to work and had no dependents, could receive only three months of food stamp benefits over a three year period if they did not meet a 20-hour-a-week minimum work requirement. The exception to the rule was that states with unemployment rates as low as 3.6% were able to waive the work requirement.

When Donald Trump came into office, he promised to shrink the number of food stamp recipients by tightening eligibility rules. He wisely waited, however, until the economy was stronger before implementing any major rules. Starting in 2020, the federal government significantly limits when states can exempt “work-eligible adults” who have no dependents from the steady employment requirement. Now, a county must have a 6% minimum unemployment rate before getting a waiver.

What happened in the three years before the new rule is that, thanks to Trumps policies, American job creation has gone through the roof. Although it must have hurt, Agence France-Presse noted early in December Trump’s stratospheric job numbers:

US job creation soared last month as hospitals, hotels and schools raced to add new workers, a shot in the arm for Donald Trump’s economic stewardship as he faces impeachment and a bitter fight for reelection.

The surprise jump in hiring wiped away fears that November would be a lackluster month and suggested the American economy so far is holding up despite a global slowdown.

Payrolls also got a boost as autoworkers were back on the job after a six-week nationwide strike at General Motors plants, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

US firms added a massive 266,000 net new positions, shattering economists’ expectations, while the jobless rate fell a tenth of a point to 3.5 percent.

 

While the Trump administration anticipated that the new rule would prospectively reduce the number of people on food stamps, the growth in employment has meant that the number of people on food stamps plummeted even under the old rule:

President Trump has overseen a drop of millions of food stamp beneficiaries even before his administration's proposals for tightening eligibility take effect.

The administration sees it as an accomplishment that food stamp rolls have fallen by 17.5% as the economy has grown and said that further reforms to the benefits will aid families. Democrats and anti-poverty groups, though, warn that the administration's proposals would further impoverish children, immigrants, and veterans.

Trump's year-end list of "results" included the boast that “nearly 7 million Americans have been lifted off of food stamps," which the administration credited to people “being lifted out of poverty as a result of today’s booming economy.”

Indeed, the latest data from the Department of Agriculture shows that 7.7 million fewer Americans receive food stamps now than did when Trump entered the White House. The Agriculture Department administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but the actual food stamp benefits are distributed by individual states.

This is what making America great again looks like.

President Trump entered office promising to change the rules so that the number of people receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as “food stamps”) would shrink. Trump finally made good on that promise in December, but his act was almost redundant, for recently released numbers show that his strong economy had already shrunk food stamp rolls.

Barack Obama got the nickname “the food-stamp president” because food stamp usage reached unparalleled heights during his administration. In his first two years in office, 12 million people were added to the already 28 million people receiving food stamps. By the time he left office, 44.2 million people in America were on food stamps.

Under the old rules for food stamp eligibility, adults between 18 and 49, who were able to work and had no dependents, could receive only three months of food stamp benefits over a three year period if they did not meet a 20-hour-a-week minimum work requirement. The exception to the rule was that states with unemployment rates as low as 3.6% were able to waive the work requirement.

When Donald Trump came into office, he promised to shrink the number of food stamp recipients by tightening eligibility rules. He wisely waited, however, until the economy was stronger before implementing any major rules. Starting in 2020, the federal government significantly limits when states can exempt “work-eligible adults” who have no dependents from the steady employment requirement. Now, a county must have a 6% minimum unemployment rate before getting a waiver.

What happened in the three years before the new rule is that, thanks to Trumps policies, American job creation has gone through the roof. Although it must have hurt, Agence France-Presse noted early in December Trump’s stratospheric job numbers:

US job creation soared last month as hospitals, hotels and schools raced to add new workers, a shot in the arm for Donald Trump’s economic stewardship as he faces impeachment and a bitter fight for reelection.

The surprise jump in hiring wiped away fears that November would be a lackluster month and suggested the American economy so far is holding up despite a global slowdown.

Payrolls also got a boost as autoworkers were back on the job after a six-week nationwide strike at General Motors plants, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

US firms added a massive 266,000 net new positions, shattering economists’ expectations, while the jobless rate fell a tenth of a point to 3.5 percent.

 

While the Trump administration anticipated that the new rule would prospectively reduce the number of people on food stamps, the growth in employment has meant that the number of people on food stamps plummeted even under the old rule:

President Trump has overseen a drop of millions of food stamp beneficiaries even before his administration's proposals for tightening eligibility take effect.

The administration sees it as an accomplishment that food stamp rolls have fallen by 17.5% as the economy has grown and said that further reforms to the benefits will aid families. Democrats and anti-poverty groups, though, warn that the administration's proposals would further impoverish children, immigrants, and veterans.

Trump's year-end list of "results" included the boast that “nearly 7 million Americans have been lifted off of food stamps," which the administration credited to people “being lifted out of poverty as a result of today’s booming economy.”

Indeed, the latest data from the Department of Agriculture shows that 7.7 million fewer Americans receive food stamps now than did when Trump entered the White House. The Agriculture Department administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but the actual food stamp benefits are distributed by individual states.

This is what making America great again looks like.