President Donald Trump, who has been making significant changes in the federal aid programs, has just signed an executive order that aims to force low-income recipients of the program to get a job or else they will lose their benefits.
The executive order, ambitiously titled Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility, would affect “any program that provides means-tested assistance or other assistance that provides benefits to people, households or families that have low incomes.”
But it does not really make much of an impact since the order has been underway since last year. Some agencies also already started making changes, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been issuing waivers to Republican governors who want to impose stricter work requirements for Medicaid recipients in order to cut costs.
However, many advocates emphasize the fact that most of the able-bodied persons who receive federal aid in the form of health care or housing are actually working but are still unable to make ends meet. Moreover, there are others who are exempted due to legitimate reasons such as psychological disability, criminal records, and difficult family issues.
“It’s a little bit of a solution in search of a problem,” said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow with the nonpartisan Urban Institute, which has analyzed food assistance and other government programs. “The administration is reflecting a larger narrative that many low-income individuals avoid work–but there’s just not a lot of data to support that position. Many of these people have significant barriers to working full time.”
Additionally, Trump reportedly wanted to redefine the word “welfare,” which originally pertains to only cash assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, to include other safety-net programs such as food aid and Medicaid.
While the word “welfare” is often deemed derogatory, President Trump is said to be either unconcerned or unaware of the distinction between cash assistance and other safety-net programs. According to several aides, Trump calls them all welfare.