Another Attack On America

By Richard Davis

Millions of Americans have been under attack since Trump and his thugs took power. The list of inhumane, racist and xenophobic actions is long and most of the people who have been targeted are low income, vulnerable because of their health or socio-economic status or because they live in fear of having their families torn apart.

The vulnerable among us are experiencing a type of bullying never before seen in this country, but this kind of cowardly action has become the norm for our rogue government. One of the more recent assaults on Americans who are working hard and trying to get ahead is a proposed rule change that would cut food stamp (commonly referred to as SNAP) benefits to about three million people.

A July 23 Washington Post story explained the administration strategy in relation to the proposed rule change. “In a telephone call with reporters, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps said the proposed new rules for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) were aimed at ending automatic eligibility for those who were already receiving federal and state assistance. “This proposal will save money and preserve the integrity of the program,” Perdue said. “SNAP should be a temporary safety net.”

Do you really think that those who made the proposed changes really care about preserving the integrity of a program that they would like to see eliminated? Do you really think they care about ruining the lives of three million Americans who will never socialize with them and who will not be sending campaign contributions to their favorite Republican candidates?

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow summed up the intent of the proposal in the same Washington Post piece saying, “This proposal is yet another attempt by this Administration to circumvent Congress and make harmful changes to nutrition assistance that have been repeatedly rejected on a bipartisan basis. This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance. ”

While some of the details of the proposed changes are complex it is worth looking at how these changes could affect Vermont. According to a memo from Ken Schatz, Commissioner of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, 5204 families will lose SNAP eligibility. That means 13% of current SNAP recipients would be cut from the program and $7,524,816 in annual benefits would be cut. That figure is almost half of the $13.5 million that taxpayers have dished out for Trump golf trips since his election.

Because of a tie-in between SNAP and the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, Schatz estimates that school age children among the 4619 children who will lose SNAP eligibility will lose direct certification for free and reduced meals.
There are other connections to programs that could be affected if the SNAP changes are implemented. Schatz notes that eligibility for the following programs have the potential to be put in jeopardy: e-rate programs for school and library technology, student loan forgiveness for teachers in low income schools (the TCLI program), open summer and meal sites for children 0-18, the Fresh Fruit and Veggie Grant Program for low income elementary schools.

The people who would lose SNAP eligibility have been added to the program because they do not qualify under normal guidelines but states recognized that this group of low income and vulnerable people needed help in order to prevent hunger and the resulting problems. These are not people who are trying to game the system but people who may have too much in savings to make them eligible for SNAP.

Consider an example of a couple that is 62 and 59 years old and who pool their income and resources. Their gross monthly income is $1585. Other monthly expenses are a mortgage payment of $405, $54 in property taxes and $64 in medical expenses. They have $5134 in savings and have been receiving $212 in SNAP benefits. The proposed rule change cuts them from the program.

It wouldn’t be hard to make the case that providing that $212 a month in food stamps is saving that couple and the rest of us more than that in prevented problems.

This kind of cruelty and discrimination will only end when we get rid of Trump. That is the simple truth. For now go to the Hunger Free Vermont web site and log in a protest vote:

This story was in the Brattleboro Reformer on 9/5/19 but the issue is still timely as Vermont officials are weighing in.

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