As usual, when Donald Trump can’t get what he wants through honest deal-making, he cheats… and violates basic Republican principles.
To pass its big liberal Farm Bill with lots of welfare checks for farmers (and hemp! hemp, I say!), House Republicans had to give up on the SNAP work requirements that Donald Trump bleated about as part of his Archie Bunker platform. So apparently to get Trump to sign the Farm Bill (it’s been over a week—what’s he been waiting for?), his advisors had to cook up something that would make Donald think he’s getting his way on taking welfare away from poor people (while not taking one red cent away from the wealthy recipients of crop subsidies and subsidized crop insurance).
To that end, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue presents a new regulatory proposal to impose work requirements on more SNAP recipients:
The proposed rule change makes it harder for states to waive work requirements in areas that have high unemployment, currently defined as 20 percent above the national average.
The USDA is calling for those waivers to be limited to one year, down from up to two years states can currently request. It also wants to slash states’ ability to “bank” waivers for future years and is pushing to restrict waivers under certain criteria where local unemployment is around 7 percent.
In all, the proposed rule could reduce areas that qualify for waivers by roughly 75 percent, according to USDA officials.
…”These actions will save hard-working taxpayers $15 billion over 10 years,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, adding that the proposed rule would also get Trump “to support a farm bill he might otherwise have opposed” [Brakkton Booker, “Sidestepping Congress, Trump Administration Proposes More Work Rules for Food Stamps,” NPR, 2018.12.20].
Now this regulatory change is not the Trump/House work requirement. Trump and the House GOP wanted to expand the SNAP work requirement for able-bodied working adults without dependents age 18–48 to folks up to age 59 and to folks whose kids are all older than 6. Perdue’s proposal simply makes it harder for states to waive the work requirement for those subject to the current work requirement (which has already cut lots of needy neighbors off from food assistance).
But notice: to stop another Trumper tantrum, we have to hand the Infant-in-Chief a new rule that circumvents the will of his own majority Congress, asserts Executive power over Legislative, and (worst of all, I would think, for true conservatives) reduces states’ rights to administer SNAP as they see fit. Reducing these waivers takes away states’ ability to try new things and adapt to unique local conditions and imposes a one-size-fits-all federal solution in more cases. Those things are the opposite of what I hear Republicans promising us all the time:
Among my core principals is a belief in the ability of local people to make the best decisions for their locality. South Dakotans object when the federal government uses a ‘one size fits all’ approach, treating all the states the same way. We are not the same as California or New York. Each state is a better judge of its own state values than is the federal government. In the same way, we should not use a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to our counties, school districts and municipalities [Gov. Dennis Daugaard, press release, 2011.02.18].
This proposed change is, unfortunately, another “one size fits all” approach that does not take into account the expansive diversity in agricultural types, practices, and operations based on location. This sweeping change would result in financial burdens as well as additional and unnecessary regulatory oversight by the federal government. Decisions like these should be left to the states [Rep. Kristi Noem, press release, 2011.08.03].
Schools expressed concerns that USDA’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to school lunches left students hungry and school districts frustrated with the additional expense, paperwork, and nutritional research necessary to meet excessive federal requirements.
In response to these concerns, Thune, along with several of his colleagues in the Senate, sent a letter to USDA calling for changes to be made to the program lifting strict limitations on caloric intake of grains, starches, and proteins [Senator John Thune, press release, 2014.01.03].
Like so many of the administration’s regulations, the new overtime rule is a one-size-fits-all mandate that doesn’t take into account individual needs and regional differences [Senator Mike Rounds, press release, 2016.05.20].
Are there no real Republicans left to stand against the proposed USDA rule and defend states’ rights against Donald Trump’s overreaching federal government? Come on!
In other news, the Farm Bill does finally ban dog and cat meat. Woof woof!