The Problem Isn’t Food Stamps, the Poverty of It

The harm will probably be permanent. Food stamps would be lowered by 25 percentage — $193 billion over 10 years — a lot of which would be reached by shifting costs leading them to cut food aid.

Disparities in hunger and poverty throughout the states, average before the modern food stamp program began in the 1970s, would return, as would more appetite over all, especially in recessions, when states have to cut back spending.

By making its strict requirements stricter the budget would also reduce the food stamp program. It would all but prohibit states from waiving a federal rule that generally cuts off unemployed childless adults . The cutoff is supposed to stop freeloading, but it affects people who have low abilities, arrest records, substance abuse issues or impediments. The budget would also make it harder for states to correct the formulation where rents or child maintenance prices are high. And no matter how large there is a household, the benefit calculation would be capped in individuals.

The cuts have little chance of enactment, but they are still harmful. Proposals are a means to make extreme proposals seem okay. To avoid that trap, members of Congress from both parties need to do more than simply announce the Trump budget dead. They need to make objections and draw clear lines in the sand. Otherwise, the provisions that are objectionable will probably return, slightly altered, but hardly dreadful. They also need to resist accepting federal spending cuts inescapable.

That so many families are entitled to food stamps reflects the prevalence of low wage occupations. In 2016, six of the 20 biggest jobs — largely in restaurants, retail and healthcare — had median wages around poverty level for a household of three. Eight of those 10 jobs that are expected to add the most positions within the next decade pay badly.

Hence the problem is not the number of people on food stamps; it’s that companies pay wages so low that they are qualified for by their workers. It is a problem that the White House and Congress may rectify, not by cutting spending, but by raising the minimum wage, updating the overtime-pay rules and instituting paid leave — for starters.

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