President Trump’s proposal to cut food stamp funding has drawn howls of protest but supporters say critics are overreacting.
The cuts are part of Trump’s budget plan for the 2018 fiscal year. Titled “A New Foundation For American Greatness”, the plan was presented to Congress on Tuesday. The plan also calls for cuts to welfare programs including Medicaid as well as cuts in funding for climate change and medical research.
In April, more than 1 million people in Tennessee, representing more than 500,000 households, used the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to a state government website. Tennessee has a total population of around 6.6 million.
Called SNAP, the program offers benefits formerly known as food stamps and still often called that informally. The total cost of the issuance in Tennessee for April was more than $128 million.
Shelby County had by far the largest number of people on food stamps with nearly 220,000 individuals receiving benefits.
Trump’s proposal for reforming SNAP includes closing eligibility loopholes, targeting the neediest households for help and requiring able-bodied adults to work. The reforms would reduce costs while maintaining basic assistance for low-income families to help them get through hard times, the proposal says.
Estella Mayhue-Greer, president of the Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis, told WREG News Channel 3 that she’s worried about how the proposed cuts could affect the food bank. More people could be headed their way if they can’t get food stamps, said Mayhue-Greer.
“We can’t do it alone,” she said, adding that “there’s a tremendous need in Shelby County.”
But Tim Worstall, a contributor to Forbes magazine, wrote that the proposed cuts are causing unnecessary alarm.
“This is causing the predictable screaming from the usual quarters about how the poor will now have to boil ditchweed in order to avoid starving to death and so on,” Worstall wrote. But essentially all the plan does is reduce the program to the size it was before the recession, he said.
Trump’s plan notes that SNAP has grown significantly over the past decade, growing to historic levels during the recession. Yet participation has remained high despite improvements in unemployment since the recession ended.
The extensive budget proposal released this week expands on the Budget Blueprint that Trump released in March.