Thursday, June 01, 2017

Rural areas could be hardest hit by budget cuts and work rules in SNAP, Social Security disability

President Trump's proposed budget includes work requirements for “able-bodied” persons in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps, and cut the funding by $192 billion over the next decade. The budget also proposes a reduction of $70 billion in Social Security disability funding.

"To President Trump . . . access to food stamps is far too easy, and being on disability is just a matter of finding a friendly judge," Yamiche Alcindor and Campbell Robertson write for The New York Times. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney cites the cost savings and the incentive of good, old, hard work. "We need everybody pulling in the same direction,” he said.

However, many are concerned about the impact that these cuts will have on rural communities, especially in states like Mississippi, a state with much rural poverty, the Times reports: "Since last January, about 83,000 people receiving food stamps in Mississippi between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents have been required to work, or prove they are looking for work, at least 20 hours a week to receive food stamps, according to Beth Orlansky, advocacy director of the Mississippi Center for Justice, which focuses on issues of racial and economic inequality. "The rules originated a decade ago in Washington, but because of its high poverty rates, Mississippi had been allowed a waiver since 2006."

"While asking people to work might sound like a good idea 'in the abstract', she said, a state like Mississippi — with large pockets of poverty, sprawling rural communities and some of the highest rates of people on disability and food stamps — does not have enough jobs in the right places. Most people receiving food stamps and disability are doing some sort of work, but they need better skills and education to rise above poverty wages."

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