President Signs Executive Order Mandating That Poor People Work or Lose ‘Welfare’

Illustration for article titled President Signs Executive Order Mandating That Poor People Work or Lose ‘Welfare’
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Without much fanfare (totally apropos, given what’s been happening in the world of the White House in the last 72 hours), President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that will force recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, Medicaid and low-income housing subsidies to find work or lose their assistance.


Trump quietly signed the long-anticipated order, oddly named “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility.” Given that many government agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, have already begun issuing waivers to Republican governors who want to impose stricter work requirements on Medicaid recipients to cut costs, it will not make much of an impact, according to the New York Times.

The fact remains that most able-bodied adults who receive federal aid in the form of subsidized health care or housing already work—but are still unable to make ends meet; others receive exemptions for legitimate reasons.

From the Times:

The order gave all cabinet departments 90 days to produce plans that impose work requirements on able-bodied aid recipients and block ineligible immigrants from receiving aid, while drafting “a list of recommended regulatory and policy changes” to push recipients off the rolls and into jobs.

The aim, Trump aides said ... is to prod federal and state officials to take a tougher stance with aid recipients — millions of whom currently receive exemptions from existing work requirements because they are in training programs, provide care for relatives or volunteer their labor.

The Agriculture Department is already pressuring states to impose work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the program formerly known as food stamps. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services granted a waiver to Arkansas so it could require Medicaid recipients to get jobs, participate in job training or engage in job searches at least 80 hours a month.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, most able-bodied adults who do not already have jobs face obstacles in working, including psychiatric disability, criminal records and difficult family issues.


Yet the narrative from the Trump administration says differently.

“Our country suffers from nearly record high welfare enrollments,” said Andrew Bremberg, the president’s domestic policy chief, according to the Times, which notes that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments to poor people are approaching record lows.


Trump also reportedly wants to change the word “welfare” to include not only cash payments but also food and medical benefits (SNAP and Medicaid).

Or he just doesn’t give AF. And I quote: “Mr. Trump, several aides said, is unconcerned—or perhaps even unaware—of the distinction between cash assistance and other safety-net programs ... he calls them all welfare.”


And we know what connotations go along with that.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.



Telling people they need to work to get benefits without creating jobs for them to work at is an especially shitty way to treat people. What jobs are they supposed to work at?