This week, we learned of the Trump administration plan to put forward a controversial proposal that would disenfranchise Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients further by taking away their right to choose their own food and instead replace them with what the White House has tried to spin as a "Blue Apron-like" service.
Trump's administration is not seeking to provide the most vulnerable among us with meals such as salmon and dukkah-spiced vegetables with orange and endive, beef medallions and scallion salsa verde, or Korean chicken tacos. Instead, under their proposal, those receiving benefits would soon receive about half of them in the form of a USDA Food package. That package would reportedly consist of "shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned fruit and vegetables. The boxes would not include fresh fruits or vegetables but would come with ample offerings of palpable disdain for poor people and their plight to survive.
As some have noted, the first mistake many media outlets make in covering the newly unveiled White House budget's impact on SNAP benefits, are they acquiesce to the Trump administration's dubious framing of it.
No matter how they choose to spin it, they are not proposing to turn food stamp benefits into Blue Apron, the ingredient and recipe meal kit subscription. They are aiming to further marginalize and control the poor.
The proposed changes to SNAP would cut the program by almost 30 percent. Yes, it comes on the heels of passing a tax cut that will only benefit the very wealthy and further widen economic inequality, but these people obviously don't care. And for a party that purports to be a less intrusive government, this budget says otherwise.
As Joel Berg, CEO of the hunger advocacy group Hunger Free America, explained to NPR: "They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income Americans while increasing bureaucracy and reducing choices."
White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney is the man responsible for attempting to brand this vile proposal as a "Blue Apron"-inspired. If you let him tell it, the plan would not only save the government money, but also provide people with more nutritious food than they have now. What's healthier than canned everything and powered food? Never mind recipient's allergies or need for nutrition. And hell, you can forget the right for them to spend their benefits on food as they see fit.
No shade to canned beans, because they can be a hero in time-sensitive meal prepping crises, but this is ridiculous.
Mulvaney, who also apparently believes he can become governor someday, fancies himself as a budget hawk yet this same week claimed Donald Trump's proposed military parade would cost between $10 to $30 million. What if that money went towards feeding poor children? Instead we have an adult male who, like a child, saw France had a parade and turned to his generals and expressed, I want one too!
It's also worth noting that Mulvaney is trying to make it easier for payday lenders to further take advantage of the poor. So in a nutshell, those needing government aid can't be trusted to select their own food, but payday lenders should be deregulated because you should trust the poor in vulnerable financial situations? This only makes sense to a Disney villain.
Of course, many Republicans across the country have also tried to limit what those on food stamps can purchase. As in, no lobster, no steak or decorated birthday cakes. In their eyes, if you are poor, you deserve every form of debasement imaginable.
True to form, conservative talking heads have rushed to further pollute the cable news airwaves to defend the budget by parroting the same bull Mulvaney spouted earlier this week.
Someone should explain to Harlan Hill that most people receiving SNAP benefits are already working. In 2015, a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley revealed a majority of households receiving government assistance are headed by a working adult. As Ken Jacobs, one of the report’s authors, explained to the Wall Street Journal, “When companies pay too little for workers to provide for their families, workers rely on public assistance programs to meet their basic needs.”
If the Trump administration had its way, more than half of the fast-food workers currently receiving some form of government assistance wouldn't be allowed eat at their own place of employment. Instead, they'd need return home to powdered peanut butter and canned fruit after working several hours a day at far too low wages.
This budget will not pass, but that isn't really the point. Their intentions alone are worthy of condemnation. If Republicans were truly invested in reducing the welfare state, they would advocate for higher wages for workers, rather than further enable the corporate welfare system. Their trust in individual liberty only extends to the wealthy and the powerful. If you're poor and would like to purchase healthy food at the grocery store, you're on your own