Once again, the core group of voters that backed Trump’s presidential campaign will disproportionately be hurt by a policy pushed by his Republican allies in Congress. This time, the pain will be felt by red state residents on food stamps.
For years, the right has cruelly sought to hurt food stamp recipients by clamping down on their access to the necessities of life. The latest manifestation of this campaign is a proposal being pushed by House Republicans that would mandate stricter work requirements for people receiving food assistance.
Trump is reportedly “keen” on the harsh new rules, according to Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX).
Outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has long promoted “entitlement reform” as one of his pet issues, and attacking food stamps is one avenue towards that. In a recent statement from his office, Ryan pointed to the amount of people receiving assistance as evidence that benefits need to be attacked, and cited a Wall Street Journal piece discussing Republicans pushing work requirements.
But the requirements, Bloomberg reports, “would disproportionately affect low-income residents in states that supported Donald Trump for president.”
According to the outlet’s analysis of the provisions, which would be part of the omnibus farm bill, 23.8 million people in states that voted for Trump would feel the bite of the new draconian provisions, compared to 16.2 million in states that voted for Clinton.
Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, noted that the provisions would hit rural areas.
“One in four rural children lives in poverty,” he noted. “The president’s response is to withhold food.”
Imposing more stringent work requirements is largely an outgrowth of right-wing propaganda that demonizes the poor.
Rather than promote stories of poor Americans who rely on the social safety net to get back on their feet, conservative media outlets like Fox News often hold up people who cheat the system as the norm, rather than the statistically insignificant outliers they usually are.
Conservative politicians, responding to that stereotype, then make it harder and harder for poor people to receive benefits — exacerbating the problem rather than working to erode it.
They have repeatedly been told by voices like Trump and Fox News that their votes will punish some “other” who is taking advantage of them. But it is Trump and his Republican enablers who are taking these voters to the cleaners.