Reverse Robin Hood; Republicans Want To Cancel Food Stamps, Let Poor Starve, Literally

by ursulafaw – “The Bible says that ‘God helps them who help themselves,'” Mike Pence said to a Huffington Post reporter in September. When the reporter replied that the expression was not in the Bible, Pence quipped, “It’s in the Republican Bible.” This exchange was satire but Pence’s recent comment on “personal responsibility” with regard to health issues was real and the furor over government subsidized grocery assistance for the poor is a recurring controversy. This week SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is once again the go-to doormat of the budgetary process, as it always is renewal-year in, renewal-year out. Food stamps is an emotional issue, like abortion and gun control and so just like those other two topics, vast amounts of mis-information and even dis-information exists and the program is always on the chopping block, despite the fact that in reality it is a tiny portion of the agriculture budget...

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Days After Administration Promised not to Touch Food Stamps, Trump Budget Reportedly Will Cut Them

by Alan Pyke – Expect big cuts to SNAP, WIC, and food bank subsidies systems. “As far as I’m concerned we have no proposed changes” to the food stamps program, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told congressmen last Wednesday. “You don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.” Perdue’s comments, delivering during a Wednesday House Agriculture Committee hearing, seemed to signal that President Donald Trump would not seek to shrink America’s efforts to help low-income families feed themselves. Yet just five days later, a leaked budget document seems to show the White House is going back on Perdue’s commitment — contemplating some combination of policy changes and outright budget cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) and other key food supports for the poor. The leaked spreadsheet lists proposed budget requests for thousands of different government line items, without any of the accompanying policy information that would...

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Trump Preparing to Open New Front in His Dangerous, Misguided War on Immigrants

by Silva Mathema, Rachel West, and Shawn Fremstad – President Donald Trump is actively considering opening a new front in his war on immigrants through another hastily drafted and vaguely worded executive order. Drafts of this new order have been leaked to various press outlets and offer a worrying look into the administration’s complete disregard for commonsense immigration policy. If issued, the order would expand the focus of the administration’s anti-immigrant campaign beyond unauthorized immigrants, refugees, and Muslims—groups that Trump’s campaign and administration have already targeted extensively—to include green card holders—also known as lawful permanent residents, or LPRs—living in the United States. It would also affect potential immigrants seeking visas to lawfully enter the United States to reunite with family members. Under the draft order, individuals who are otherwise eligible for green cards could be denied admission to the United States if they could conceivably become eligible for any kind of...

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New Mexico Officials Accused Of Forging Applications To Deny Poor People Emergency Food Stamps

by BRYCE COVERT – Kimberly Jones knows just how hard it is to wait for emergency food stamps to come through. New Mexico is supposed to grant people in dire financial situations expedited benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) within seven days, rather than the 30 it takes to process regular applications. But it often doesn’t work out that way. At the end of last year, Jones, who was living in a hotel room because she couldn’t afford an apartment, applied for emergency benefits. But months passed without any word from the state’s Human Services Department (HSD), which oversees SNAP. Forced to decide between spending her meager income from her part-time job caring for a home-bound patient on either food or the hotel room, she spent it on the room, knowing that she needed somewhere to keep her belongings. So while she waited for help buying food, she...

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Scott Walker Boots 15,000 People Off Food Stamps In Three Months

by ALAN PYKE – In just three months, 15,000 people in Wisconsin have already lost food stamps thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) decision to enforce full work requirements for the program in Milwaukee despite economic conditions dire enough to trigger a federal reprieve. Walker’s administration made the policy change in April. Since then, anyone deemed to be an able-bodied adult with no dependents to care for must prove they are working or participating in job training programs for at least 20 hours per week. Failing to meet that standard means losing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits after three months. The 15,000 bumped from the rolls from May to July is only half the number the state predicts will ultimately lose food stamps because of the move. The 20-hour weekly work requirement is typically waived when economic conditions are too tight. Since making people hungrier doesn’t create jobs where...

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USDA Does Not Have The Cash To Keep Food Stamps Running If The Government Shuts Down

by ALAN PYKE – Tens of millions of vulnerable Americans would lose their food stamps benefits if Republicans bent on defunding Planned Parenthood force the second government shutdown of the Obama era next week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) warned on Tuesday. Unlike the 2013 shutdown when cash reserves allowed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to be disbursed as normal, “USDA will not have the funding necessary for SNAP benefits in October and will be forced to stop providing benefits within the first several days of October,” a spokeswoman told the Associated Press. The agency notified state SNAP administrators on Friday that they should not begin the process of doling out October’s food stamps dollars this week as they normally would. Without a deal, funding for normal government operations will run out at the end of September. In response to the news that a shutdown would cut...

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New Mexico Governor Readies Tougher Food Stamp Work Rules Amid High Unemployment And Hunger

by ALAN PYKE –   With an unemployment rate well above the national average and more than one in four of its children on the brink of hunger, New Mexico is poised to make it harder to get food stamps. Like most other states, New Mexico has waived federal work requirements tied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since about 2009. The work rules are designed to lapse when the unemployment is severe, since requiring people to find work or starve makes little sense when there’s no work to be had. But since last fall, Gov. Susanna Martinez (R) has sought to reinstate the rules limiting able-bodied people to three months of SNAP benefits unless they work or attend job training classes at least 20 hours per week. Martinez’s initial attempt was blocked by a judge who ruled the state had failed to give the required public notice about...

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This State Literally Wants To Treat Welfare Recipients Like Criminals With Mandatory Fingerprints

by SARAH – The state of Massachusetts is actually strongly considering implementing a fingerprinting system that will keep track of all welfare recipients within the state. Yes, you read that correctly — liberal Massachusetts. A couple months with a Republican governor and all hell breaks loose. And yes, this “solution” to alleged welfare fraud is coming from the House Minority Leader, Republican Brad Jones — what a peach. Jones wants the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transitional Assistance to clamp down on welfare recipients by implementing a fingerprinting system as well as other biometric identifiers. He said: “We’re losing millions of dollars a year to people who are gaming the welfare system.” So, of course, the obvious solution would be to treat all welfare recipients like criminals. God forbid he ever need assistance during a troubling time in his life and needs a little...

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GOP Governor To Ex-Cons On SNAP: You Made A Mistake, Your Kids Should Starve

By CHARLES TOPHER, Addicting Info – Maine Governor Paul LePage, notorious for holding the shiny object of poor-shaming in front of a base of ignorant rural constituents, has taken his attacks on the less fortunate to a new level. A new bill introduced to committee in the Maine Legislature seeks to deny TANF and SNAP, better known as welfare and food stamps, to anyone with a felony drug conviction. A father who was arrested at a college kegger in 1987 and charged with a felony cocaine possession would be automatically denied, even if that were the only trouble he had ever been in. His children would therefore be ineligible as well. A recovering addict with 15 years of sobriety who falls on hard times is out of luck, and a single mom who was arrested along with her boyfriend because he was carrying drugs a decade ago can forget about any...

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How Conservative Obsession With Policing Poor People’s Shopping Carts Got Started

By ALAN PYKE, ThinkProgress – The first time a state government tried to bar food stamps recipients from buying certain types of food it deemed “junk,” the War on Terror hadn’t yet reached Iraq and Facebook hadn’t been invented yet. More than a dozen years later, so-called “junk food bans” remain en vogue with conservative lawmakers who have not heeded the lessons of that first failed attempt. At the outset of 2003, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) kicked off his first term by proposing “the next generation” of welfare reform in Minnesota. Amid a laundry list of other changes, Pawlenty wanted to ban Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from buying junk food. States cannot take such a step unless they are granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and no state had ever applied for one for the purpose Pawlenty had ginned up. Legislators and agency heads...

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The Murray-Scott Minimum-Wage Bill: A Win-Win for Working Families and Taxpayers

by Rachel West – On April 30, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) are expected to announce a new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020. The Raise the Wage Act would phase the new minimum wage in slowly, beginning with $8 per hour in 2016 and increasing in single-dollar increments over the following four years. Starting in 2020, the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation to protect its value in future years. In addition, Murray and Scott’s proposal would slowly phase out the so-called tipped minimum wage, which has been stuck at $2.13 since 1991. It has been six years since the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour was last raised; each year, its purchasing power falls as price levels rise. Despite the success of recent campaigns at the state and—increasingly—local levels, 21 states have remained bound by $7.25...

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Wisconsin Republicans Don’t Want Food Stamp Recipients Buying Beans, Potatoes, Pasta Sauce

By ALAN PYKE, ThinkProgress – Low-income Wisconsin families won’t be able to buy shellfish with food stamps, and will have a much harder time getting basics like dried beans, pasta sauce, and cooking spices into their kitchens, under the latest state-level Republican proposal to tighten the government’s grip on the poor. A bill proposed by state Rep. Robert Brooks (R) would ban stores from accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards for lobster, shrimp, and any other form of shellfish, and set a long list of additional rules for the first two-thirds of a recipient’s monthly spending. Lawmakers held a committee hearing Thursday on the bill, which would require a federal waiver to implement. An average of 420,000 households received SNAP each month in Wisconsin in 2014. The average recipient household got $220 per month from the program last year. Brooks’ restrictions would apply to all but $72.60 per month...

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Robbin’ the Reuben

Maine Food Stamp Reform Could Include Banning Deli Meat, Pickles and More By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos –  In the last year alone, Maine has kicked 9,000 people off the welfare rolls. Now, Maine legislators have proposed new guidelines that would forbid SNAP beneficiaries from buying “junk foods.” The idea is to get people on food stamps to eat healthier, but it is also part of a troubling trend of state legislatures shaming food stamp recipients, like this bill in Missouri that would forbid recipients from buying fish and steak. If Maine Governor Paul LePage has his way, this junk food ban would pass. But, as Think Progress notes, the term “junk food” has broad implications: The legislation LePage supports claims that “the purchase of unhealthy products is antithetical to the purpose of the program.” But the definition of “unhealthy” that the bill uses is quite broad, and...

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Congresswoman: Republican Attempts To Cut Food Stamps In Budget Talks Will ‘Open Up A Can Of Worms’

by BRYCE COVERT – Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) has some priorities for her role as one of the members of a conference committee working to hash out a budget deal between the House and Senate. “Not to cut anymore out of SNAP,” the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, she told ThinkProgress. “Not to block grant it. Not to block grant Medicaid.” Protect Pell Grants and other safety net programs from cuts. “I think that if we could get away with those things, it would be a good day.” After House and Senate Republicans put forward their budget proposals last month, the Senate passed its version after a “vote-o-rama” session that allowed Senators to vote on a number of amendments. Then last week, the Senate voted to go to conference with the House to reconcile differences in the two different budget resolutions. On Monday, the committee had its...

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Proposed Congressional Cuts to Nutrition Assistance Would Cost Jobs

By Melissa Boteach, Center for American Progress – The House will vote on a measure to repeal the estate tax, which would shower the wealthiest 0.2 percent of estates in the country with an average tax cut of $2.5 million. Meanwhile, the House has already passed a budget proposal that would convert the nation’s bedrock nutrition assistance program—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP—into block grants to the states. If implemented, this conversion would result in $125 billion in cuts to struggling families between 2021 and 2025. This draconian proposal would kick up to 12 million people off of food assistance or cut nutrition benefits that primarily serve children, seniors, people with disabilities, and working families by an average of almost $55 per person per month. In doing so, this proposal would also cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs. In fact, assuming the cuts are evenly distributed...

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How Do You Help A Food Stamp Recipient Get A Job?

by ALAN PYKE – Everyone seems to agree that the government should be doing more to help connect people who earn too little to support themselves with jobs that will return them to self-sufficiency. Now, the government is spending about $175 million on experiments in 10 states to scrutinize various ideas for providing economic mobility to families that need food stamps to get by. Most of those experiments involve a shift from thinking to doing, but one of them is targeted to a long-running and comprehensive local service provider in California. Even before its new expansion, the Fresno Bridge Academy developed the kind of track record that makes it likely to emerge as a national model whenever the results of all these pilot programs come in. The programs, which range from a $9 million effort in Vermont to a more than $22 million project in Virginia, explore how the Supplemental...

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Republicans Fighting To Expand The Pentagon’s Already Bloated Budget While Still Cutting Food Stamps

by LEFT WING NATION – If there’s one thing Republicans love above all else, it’s throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at the Pentagon. It sucks away money from all those pesky domestic programs they despise (like feeding hungry children), does very little to improve the economy, and allows for endless wars all over the world. The question facing Republicans right now is how to give the Pentagon even MORE money and how to get around the 2011 Sequester to do it: In a 2011 deficit showdown, President Obama and Congressional Republicans agreed to severe budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years that would apply to both domestic and defense programs. This Congress seems content to leave undisturbed the mandated cuts for domestic programs, many of which affect the poor and middle class, but Republicans as well as some Democrats are now seeking a hefty increase of as much as $100 billion...

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MO lawmakers introduce bill to prevent food stamp recipients from buying fish (and other things)

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos – Missouri lawmakers are on a new quest to further demoralize and degrade citizens who rely on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). State Representative Rick Brattin has introduced a bill that would, among other things, prevent food stamps from being used to purchase fish and steak. From House Bill 813: A recipient of supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits shall not use such benefits to purchase cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak. More from the Riverfront Times: “There’s a long history of trying to dictate what somebody should be buying on food stamps. The program itself has been really stigmatized,” says Washington University professor Mark Rank, who authored Living on the Edge: The Realities of Welfare in America. “There have been a lot of studies on fraud, when there were actually people buying, trading and selling their EBT cards, but it was a...

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The ‘Magical Thinking’ Behind The GOP Plan To Cut Programs For The Poor

by BRYCE COVERT – On Tuesday, House Republicans released a budget proposal that, among other things, promises to reduce spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) and Medicaid by using a favorite budgeting gimmick that could wind up cutting millions off from the support they need. Then on Wednesday, Senate Republicans are expected to release a budget that would do something very similar. The aim is to save the federal government money while still serving the needs of the poor. Overall, the House budget purports to save $5.5 trillion in spending while still “ensur assistance is provided to those in need.” But Republicans plan to do this in part with something called block granting, which significantly changes the way programs are funded. But as past experience with block granting shows, the poor will suffer if these programs are reformed this way. Currently, Medicaid and SNAP are cost-sharing...

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Republicans Set To Launch Their Most Devastating Attack On Food Stamps Yet

by ALAN PYKE – House Republicans are set to unveil a budget on Tuesday morning that will reportedly slice over a hundred billion dollars out of the food stamps program over the coming decade. Such cuts would amount to about 15 percent of the program’s projected spending over those years. The cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is already declining naturally as the economy recovers and fewer families need the safety net, and Congress has already cut billions of dollars from the program in recent years. But whereas those previous, smaller cuts came from highly technical tweaks to program rules — and were therefore subject to a sort of informal veto by governors in several states — the new GOP budget documents coming from both sides of Capitol Hill this week seek a sweeping overhaul of the program. For ground-level hunger activists like New York City Coalition Against Hunger...

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