While the Trumpistas are presently plowing a multibillion-dollar subsidy into big grain farms – they’re using a tangle of federal red tape in a mingy effort to deny a meager level of food assistance to millions of poor families.
To qualify for food aid, federal rules say that a family of three should have an income under $27,000 a year. But with rents, utilities, health care, and even food prices constantly rising, millions of Americans can’t make ends meet on such a low income. Thus, 40 states have stepped in to loosen that restriction so families at least get the basic nutrition they need. Trump’s minions demean these people as welfare moochers, but overwhelmingly they’re working families, children, the elderly, and Americans with disabilities. And the benefit is hardly lavish, averaging only $127 a month – but even this modest outlay has proven enormously successful in mitigating poverty.
Congress actually authorized states to make such pragmatic income adjustments in a 1996 revamp of the law. But – look out! – here comes Trump’s reactionary ag secretary, Sonny Perdue. He recently rose up on his hind legs to proclaim that naughty state officials are using that authority as a “loophole” to circumvent Trump’s federal authority. So Sonny and Donnie are demanding a whole new bureaucracy of “eligibility police” to monitor the financial assets of food stamp recipients. They’ll spend tens of millions of your and my tax dollars to harass the poor in an autocratic hope of nabbing a couple of hungry families who have a dime more in assets than miserly Trumpistas claim they should have.
What we have here is government by plutocratic authoritarians who’ll gleefully dole out millions in tax breaks and subsidies to wealthy families, then just as gleefully take food off the tables of poor families.
“The Cruel Farce of Cutting Food Stamps,” The New York Times, July 29, 2019.
“Closing the food stamp loophole,” Austin American Statesman, July 28, 2019.