Home > Uncategorized > In Case You Misunderstood: The Trump Cuts to Welfare are Cruel to the Poor, Helpful to the Rich

In Case You Misunderstood: The Trump Cuts to Welfare are Cruel to the Poor, Helpful to the Rich

July 27, 2019

NYTimes guest op ed columnist and Georgetown Law Professor David Super wrote an essay published earlier this week offering a blunt and accurate assessment of President Trump’s “Poverty Policy”. Here’s the opening paragraph that summarizes Mr. Super’s opinion:

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced proposed rules that would cut more than three million people off food assistance. This latest plan confirms what many have long suspected: The only thing unifying its policies on poverty is cruelty. Prior right-ring assaults on the poor at least claimed some semblance of a coherent theme. In contrast, this proposal, and earlier ones, are a grab-bag of mutually inconsistent ideas seemingly selected only to maximize harm.

Mr. Super’s article offers a “history” of cuts to the safety net that began with Ronald Reagan’s administration and continued during the Clinton administration when Newt Gingrich controlled the House. Both the Reagan and Gingrich “reforms” reduced funding for the safety net but offered block grants to the states so that they could administer the programs and, presumably, come up with better ways to solve the problem of intractable poverty. Mr. Super contrasts those “philosophies” to that of the Trump administration’s:

The Trump administration’s initiatives, by contrast, are federal power grabs. Current rules allow childless workers to receive more than three months of food assistance while they seek jobs only when their state certifies that they live in areas with insufficient jobs. The administration would strip states of that power. The Gingrich Congress gave states the flexibility to confer “categorical eligibility” for food assistance on those people the states deemed needy by giving them benefits with block grant funds; the Trump administration would largely eliminate that authority.

The earlier shredding of the safety net was done based on the conservative philosophy that STATES were better able to offer help to the needy and determine the job markets in their jurisdiction. The Trump administration just wants to cut benefits… period. But, as Mr. Super notes, there IS one constant:

The one constant is helping to pay for huge, unaffordable upper-income tax cuts. Mr. Trump pushed through a $2 trillion tax cut in December 2017. This reversed years of declining federal deficits. Most of the benefits went to extremely affluent individuals and corporate shareholders, many of them foreign.

Those in the heartland need to understand that Mr. Trump’s xenophobic message notwithstanding, his policies are hurting their neighbors who are suffering because of unemployment and underemployment and the beneficiaries of these new cruel polices “…are extremely affluent individuals and corporate shareholders, many of them foreign.”

The one constant is treating those who are suffering badly— be they foreigners or Americans— while helping those who are affluent— be they foreigners or Americans.


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