The Trump administration moved to end food stamp benefits for 3.1 million people, the day after the president reached a deal with Democrats to raise federal spending by tens of billions of dollars for the next two years.
The proposed rule curtailing food assistance, announced Tuesday, drew a sharp rebuke from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called it an “act of staggering callousness.”
“This proposal perfectly showcases the Republicans’ cynical special interest agenda that gives billion-dollar handouts to big corporations and the wealthy few, and then steals from children, veterans, seniors and working families to make up the difference,” Pelosi said.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the administration acted to restrict states’ ability to automatically enroll beneficiaries of some federally funded welfare programs because many state governments “have misused this flexibility.”
“We are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it,” he added.
About 9% of all households currently receiving food stamps and 13.2% of all currently participating households with at least one elderly member will lose the assistance, the Agriculture Department projected in a regulatory impact analysis.
Conservatives have long sought cuts in the federal food assistance program for the poor and disabled. House Republicans tried to impose similar restrictions on the food assistance last year when Congress renewed the program but were rebuffed in the Senate.
The proposed changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — often called by its former name, food stamps — would deliver a win for conservatives as Trump confronts harsh criticism of his spending deal from several leading congressional spokesmen for the right.
Shares of several major discount chains that sell groceries dropped following announcement of the rule. Dollar Tree initially dropped as much as 3% and closed down 1.9%, its lowest close in more than a month. Dollar General fell as much as 2.9% and closed down 0.6%. WalMart was off as much as 1.1% but pared losses to close down 0.7%.
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SOURCE: Yahoo!, Mike Dorning