While President Donald Trump was out of the country on his first foreign trip, his director of the Office of Management and Budget unveiled for the American people Trump’s proposed budget that aims to place the interest of taxpayers first.
Part of placing taxpayers first is through cutting and reforming bloated government programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. Trump’s budget would slim the program down significantly by strengthening work requirements for able-bodied adult recipients without dependent children, according to Breitbart.
In a letter to Congress accompanying his 2018 proposed budget, Trump wrote, “We must reform our welfare system so that it does not discourage able-bodied adults from working, which takes away scarce resources from those in real need. Work must be the center of our social policy.”
Those words were echoed by OMB Director Mick Mulvaney as he introduced the budget to the media and stated, “If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, then we need you to go to work.”
Of course, the proposal to cut the size of the food stamp program through the addition and strengthening of work requirements was met with howls from the left, many of whom called the move the opposite of being compassionate toward the less fortunate among us, but Mulvaney had an answer for those critics.
“We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of people on these programs,” Mulvaney told the media. “We’re going to measure compassion by how many people we can get off these programs.”
The New York Post reported that the food stamp program, which in 2007 cost about $33 billion and had 26 million recipients, was expanded under former President Barack Obama during the seemingly never-ending recession and reached a peak in 2013 of 47.6 million recipients, costing about $80 billion.
As the economy eventually leveled off and began inching back upward again in Obama’s final years, the food stamp program dipped slightly to 44 million recipients costing $71 billion. To conservatives, that’s still far higher than it should be, hence the effort to slim it down further through a cut of about $190 billion over 10 years, largely achieved through the addition of work requirements for welfare and the states picking up more of the tab.
“It is a taxpayer-first budget,” Mulvaney said, according to the Post. “Yes, we are concerned on the impact of government spending on the folks who receive benefits, but we are also concerned (about) the folks who pay the taxes in the first place. We think that balance has been lost.”
The New York Times reported that Trump’s budget seemed built upon the bedrock conservative ideal that the government should help those who were willing to help themselves, while setting aside those who refuse and are unwilling to make any effort at improving their lot in life.
“We need people to go to work,” Mulvaney told reporters. “If you’re on food stamps, and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.”
Of course, liberal critics shout that some welfare recipients want to work but are unable to find a job, or need some extra assistance in acquiring the necessary skills to obtain a good job in our changing economy. But the OMB director had an answer for those critics, especially as the economy improves.
“I would assure you if you’re in this country and you want to work, there’s good news, because Donald Trump is president, and we’re going to get 3 percent growth, and we’re going to give you a chance to get back to work,” stated the Mulvaney.
The idea that work requirements for able-bodied adults to remain on the food stamp program and other welfare programs (if necessary) would cut the cost and size of the programs is popular among conservatives.
At the Heritage Foundation, senior research fellow Robert Rector told The New York Times, “The bottom line is that a work requirement serves as a kind of gatekeeping device.”
He explained that the work requirement would separate out those truly in need from those who are merely milking the system, and that removing the incentives or ability for them to unnecessarily remain on the welfare program would result in the program shrinking in cost and size.
“The primary goal is reciprocity,” said Rector. “It’s a moral goal in the sense that what you want to say is, ‘We will give aid to those who need aid, but we expect constructive activity in exchange for aid.’ That’s the whole principle. Everything else is secondary to that.”
Obviously, it remains to be seen how Trump’s proposed work requirement for the food stamp program will fare once Congress gets its hands on the budget, as this and virtually everything else in the budget will meet stiff resistance from Democrats and some more establishment Republicans.
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