The Trump Administration on Tuesday unveiled new regulations that are expected to remove 3.1 million Americans from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The new rules are designed to prevent states from automatically enrolling participants who earn more than 130% of the federal poverty level.
At least 40 states currently use broad-based categorical eligibility to enroll people who qualify for SNAP under alternative criteria; this option allows states to eliminate asset tests and increase income thresholds.
For years, Republicans have complained about this “loophole” that permits people with higher incomes to receive federal assistance.
“For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility requirements,” argues US Sec. of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who will receive it.”
The change could save taxpayers up to $2.5 billion annually.
“This proposal will save money and preserve the integrity of the program,” adds Perdue. “SNAP should be a temporary safety net.”
Critics insist the move is designed to enable increased federal spending at the expense of our most vulnerable population.
“This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” complains Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.
But the decision comes at a time of historically low unemployment, when fewer Americans depend on federal assistance.
SNAP participation is at a 10-year low, with roughly 36 million Americans receiving food stamps (down from 38.5 million in 2018). The average monthly benefit is $121 per person.