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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Budget Myths

It's not the big news of the day, but the Trump administration released the President's budget for 2018 yesterday.  Every spring, there is an event when the White House releases its budget.  That is usually followed by Congress rejecting that budget.  One year, president Obama's budget was put up for vote in Congress and got zero support.  That's not an overstatement; not a single Democrat or Republican voted in favor of the Obama budget.  So it's safe to assume that Trump's budget will also be dead on arrival.

Why then is it worth discussing this budget?  That's because the budget as a whole won't pass, but the priorities and proposals in the Trump budget will affect the final product.  The media has decided that the big story from the budget is that President Trump wants to cut food stamps and some other welfare programs.  On article I saw denounced Trump for wanting to impose a work requirement on those receiving food stamps.  Oh, the horror!  It's amazing how reporters from the mainstream media seem to know nothing of history.  The food stamp program was passed decades ago.  It contained a provision that required able-bodied people who sought food stamps to work if possible.  The idea of the program was to help those who needed help but also to get these people back on their own feet if possible.  Obviously, children and the elderly weren't required to work.  Those with injuries or illnesses weren't required to work.  Those who could not find a job weren't required to work.  This last group, however, was required to take work if it could be found or lose their benefits.  Americans don't mind helping those in need; we want to do it.  The majority of people, however, do not want to be forced to support those who are too lazy to work if able to support themselves.  This was from the start part of the food stamp program.

Eight years ago, president Obama decided that he would waive the work requirement.  We were in the midst of a major recession and Obama didn't want any limit on food stamps.  Instead, he did all he could to promote the program and doubled those receiving food stamp assistance.  Unemployment was around 10% and millions more dropped out of the labor force.  That's not where we are anymore, however.  President Trump just wants to put back into the food stamp program the requirement that those who are able to support themselves must make an effort to do so.  Remember, going to work doesn't necessarily deprive someone of food stamps.  In other words, taking a low paying job if that is all that is available still allows a person to get food stamps.  The days of those who do nothing but still get food stamps should end quickly.

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