Trump wants Congress to let him tell poor people what to eat


Trump's cruel budget proposal would essentially end the food stamp program as we know it.

There are a lot of terrible ideas in the budget proposal Trump is submitting to Congress, which is somehow even worse than last year's.

And one of the most cruel and nonsensical elements of his proposal is what it does to food stamps.

Trump essentially wants to end the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as we know it, by making it so that any family that gets over $90 from SNAP receives a large bulk of their benefits not in the current form of an electronic card, but direct delivery of a "100 percent American" food package to their house, containing "items such as shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit, vegetables, and meat, poultry or fish."

In other words, Trump wants to be able to directly control what low-income families eat.

Trump claims this will save $214 billion over the next decade by preventing fraud, but SNAP actually does not have much fraud in the first place. Moreover, the plan assumes states are going to foot the cost of packaging and delivering all the food, which is a huge unknown taken out of their cost estimate.

This callous move is the culmination of decades of right-wing mythmongering and dog whistles about how poor people are spending food stamps. Newt Gingrich once ridiculously claimed people used SNAP to buy plane tickets to Hawaii, and the House GOP's new Budget Committee chair, Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack, has stereotyped SNAP beneficiaries as people who "stay on the couch" and "eat their potato chips."

In reality, most families on food stamps are working, and 1.5 million people in the program are veterans.

Republicans in general seem to have no concept of what it is like to live in a food-insecure household. And Trump's cluelessness was recently mirrored by his daughter Ivanka, who told families they ought to consider food for their children as an "investment" parents make, like "Mommy and me classes."

But it is particularly galling to see Trump propose directly controlling the food low-income families eat, especially after the GOP spent years pretending to be outraged that Michelle Obama wanted school lunches to have more vegetables and whole grains.

Little by little, Trump is trying to rig the system against the poor. In Trump's vision, programs to help the most vulnerable are being turned into bureaucratic circuses of state-sponsored humiliation.