President Trump unveiled his first major budget proposal on Tuesday, called "The New Foundation for American Greatness," which included massive cuts to government programs that benefit low-income Americans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — also known as SNAP and more commonly recognized as food stamps — has come under the commander-in-chief's chopping block.
As per the proposal, the budget will reduce SNAP funding by $190 billion over the next decade. SNAP currently serves 42 million Americans.
Under the Obama administration, the rules and regulations for qualifying for the benefits were loosened amidst the economic recession. As the economy took an upward turn, enrollment in the program is slowly declining but has not altered as expected.
In 2008, 28 million people received SNAP benefits. Last year, roughly 44 million people received the benefits, which is down from the 47 million signed up in 2013. And it's not necessarily money lost: a USDA study from 2010 found that for every dollar spent on SNAP, $1.79 is generated in GDP.
In Trump's proposition, the cutback will be implemented by scaling back on eligibility and imposing additional work requirements. According to White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, the work requirement for food stamp recipients is important.
"What we have done is not try to remove the social safety net for the folks who need it, but to try to figure out if there are folks who don't need it and that need to be back in the work force," he said at a press briefing.
But anti-hunger activists make the point that many signed up for SNAP are working Americans who still cannot afford to put food on the table. Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the proposal is "a devastating blow to millions of low-income people throughout the country, in a transparent effort to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and increase defense spending."
Currently, SNAP regulations mandate able-bodied, childless adults to find a job within three months. That said, during the recession that rule was lightly enforced. How useful the cutoff is remains murky, as states like Kansas and Maine reinstalled the regulation only to find those with lapsed benefits were still unemployed a year later.
Incidentally, of the top 10 states that receive the most SNAP assistance, seven voted predominantly for Trump. These include Louisiana, West Virginia, and Mississippi.
This isn't the first time the Trump administration has gone for a government program that feeds hungry Americans: an earlier budget proposal suggested cuts to the Meals on Wheels program, which runs under the Department of Health and Human Services.
In order for the president's budget to become law, Congress has to vote in the legislation.