Common Dreams - December 25, 2019
The holiday spirit of generosity is alive and well under the Trump administration—but only for the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations.
As the rich continue to benefit from massive tax breaks, President Donald Trump is moving to slash federal nutrition assistance for millions of low-income people in the United States, a move that would dramatically worsen America's hunger crisis.
In a Christmas Eve op-ed for The Guardian Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) termed it "Trump's holiday menu: handouts for billionaires, hunger for the poor."
"Just in time for the holidays, Trump has finalized the first of three policies that will make this disparity even more obscene," wrote Tlaib and Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. "Two years after passing a $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and large corporations, the Trump administration plans to strip 3.7 million people of their nutrition benefits."
Earlier this month, as Common Dreamsreported, the Trump administration completed a rule that would restrict states' power to exempt people without dependents from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program's (SNAP) work requirements. The rule is set to take effect on April 1, 2020.
The proposal is just one of several rule changes issued by the White House that, combined, would slash nutrition assistance for millions of people. The Trump administration's assault on SNAP has drawn widespread condemnation from rights advocates and members of Congress.
"Republicans defend this by saying that keeping people hungry will make them work harder. But we know this is just about cruelty," said Sanders and Tlaib. "We know that withholding food from needy people who are underemployed only deepens the crisis of poverty in America."
In addition to fighting "as hard as we can against the Trump administration's savage attack on nutrition assistance," Sanders and Tlaib said "we need to go beyond that":
We must demand that the ultra-wealthy finally start paying their fair share so we can dramatically expand nutrition support. In the richest country in the history of the world, we have a moral obligation to eradicate the hunger that more than 37 million of our fellow Americans suffer every day.
We can start by increasing nutrition assistance by $47 per person per month—that is the shortfall between what low-income people need to prepare adequate meals and what they get in benefits. We should also significantly increase the income threshold for this program, so everyone who needs help gets it. We must also guarantee that all schoolchildren get free breakfast and lunch at every public school in America.
And we should also lift the onerous conditions on what people can buy with nutrition assistance.
"As the new year approaches," Tlaib and Sanders concluded, "let us commit to fighting for a government and an economy that works for the overwhelming majority of the people. That is how we will make food security a human right in America."