It’s time for America to get up off the couch, at least according to President Donald Trump and his budget team.
In the first year of President Donald Trump’s presidency he proposed the most ambitious welfare reform since the 1990s, focusing on requiring able-bodied adults who don’t have children to work in order to receive food stamps (SNAP).
The number of people enrolled in food stamps dropped by two million since President Trump took office, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The work requirement in the president’s 2018 budget will save a whopping $190 billion over the next ten years, according to the Office of Management and Budget, and is part of a larger plan to reform welfare in America, Lifezette reports.
“We must reform our welfare system so that it does not discourage able-bodied adults from working, which takes away scarce resources from those in real need. Work must be the center of our social policy,” the president wrote in his letter to Congress accompanying his proposed budget.
His budget director, Mick Mulvaney, made clear at a press conference last May that people need to get a job to be eligible for food stamps going forward, saying: “If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, then we need you to go to work.”
The USDA data show that the number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the government program that administers food stamps, plunged to 42,182,443 in fiscal year (FY) 2017 —a drop of 2,036,920 from the 44,219,363 enrolled in FY 2016.
Participation in the program is at its lowest level since 2010, when 40,302,000 people enrolled in the program.
Food stamp enrollment steadily declined after 2013, when participation in the government program swelled to 47.6 million—the highest amount it has ever been since former President Lyndon Johnson authorized the creation of the food stamp program in 1964. Taxpayers spent $79.8 million on SNAP when enrollment reached its peak in 2013.
When the USDA began recording how much taxpayers spent on the food stamp program in 1969, taxpayers spent $250 million to subsidize the 2.8 million receiving benefits.
After 2013, enrollment in SNAP declined as states passed laws requiring food stamp recipients to work, volunteer, be in school, or take part in job training for a set number of hours a week to receive food stamps. The improving economy also contributed to the continuing decline in food stamp usage.
President Trump has mentioned that he wanted to make it a priority to keep SNAP program costs down at the state and federal levels, which might drive down enrollment even further in 2018.
The USDA announced in December that the agency would give state agencies more autonomy over administering SNAP as one way to curb costs of the multi-billion dollar welfare program.
The federal government is also examining policy ideas being considered at the state level, such as limiting the number of family members who can make purchases using a SNAP card and drug-testing welfare recipients, to potentially implement them nationwide.