President Donald Trump has directed his agencies to raise the bar for recipients of food stamps, Medicaid, rent subsidies and other welfare programs, and find ways to put more of them back to work.
In an executive order signed Tuesday afternoon, Trump directed the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and other agencies to make a top-to-bottom review of their safety-net programs, with the goal of finding ways to push more people into the workforce and off of welfare.
“The president cares deeply about getting Americans back to work,” a senior administration official told reporters. “This executive order provides a well-thought-out, coherent framework.”
With Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, conservatives have pushed the administration to take advantage of a rare opportunity to unwind or overhaul assistance programs, which they believe promote dependency and are easy to exploit. But the effort, in the works for months, had stalled amid internal debate at the White House, ultimately took a back seat to infrastructure as a top legislative priority in Congress, leaving conservatives with an executive order.
The federal government spent more than $700 billion on welfare to low-income households in 2017. Food stamps, which are used by about 43 million Americans, and a cash benefit known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which helps about 3.5 million people, are among the programs Trump wants to target.
The order will restore “independence and dignity to millions of Americans,” Trump said in a written statement.
The executive order follows policy shifts already under way at several agencies.
Under Trump, HHS has already sought to enshrine work requirements in Medicaid, a first in the history of the health coverage program for the poor. Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas got the green light this year to require certain able-bodied adults to work as a condition of keeping their health benefits. Advocates for the poor contend that employment rules for Medicaid are not legal and have already sued to stop the Kentucky requirements from taking effect.
Conservatives used the executive order to push federal health officials to approve pending Medicaid work requirement requests in several other Republican-led states, including Utah, Maine, Wisconsin, Arizona and Alabama.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
April 12th, 2018