Trump’s budget sheds light on plans for welfare reform

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration in recent months has made its stance clear on public assistance and welfare programs: If you’re able-bodied and want benefits, you have to work.

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, released Monday, makes reference to legislative reforms to programs like food stamps and housing assistance that include adding or tightening work requirements. Simultaneously, the budget calls for deep cuts to those programs, significantly shrinking the overall spending for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and slashing funding for food stamps, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The budget proposals come as the administration sets its sights on welfare reform. Last month, the administration announced a decision to allow states to impose work requirements for Medicaid. Kentucky is the first state to roll out the requirements, and 10 other states have asked to do the same.

But advocates say that while encouraging people to work is fundamentally a good thing, imposing strict requirements on already vulnerable populations, particularly when coupled with an aggressive effort to slash funding and shrink public assistance programs, could be disastrous for those in need.

“When you get a job, that’s not the end of the story, that’s often where the story begins,” said Heather Hahn, senior fellow in the Center for Labor, Human Services and Population at the Urban Institute. “Often there’s a revolving door of low-wage, unstable work, and the public safety net serves as a form of unemployment insurance for people in those situations. The reality is, low-wage work is increasingly unstable and unpredictable, and doesn’t allow people to support their families without the help of supports like Medicaid and SNAP.”

A requirement that able-bodied adults who want to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months at a time must work in some capacity isn’t new. But the recent budget proposal tightens …read more

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