Trump’s holiday gift: Cutting off help to the poor

Originally published on The Boston Globe.

Curbing federal food stamps will only exacerbate poverty, and cost Americans in other ways.

Food stamps have long shored up American families when they have struggled to put dinner on the table. But recently it’s become the mantra of certain conservatives that federal food benefits via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, should be curtailed because they discourage work.

It is no surprise then that the Trump administration moved this month to finalize rules that would dramatically limit the poor’s access to SNAP food stamps. “Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream,” said US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement.

Such conservative bromides ignore the evidence that SNAP beneficiaries by and large do not want to depend on government — difficult circumstances in their lives make it necessary — and that the program does not dissuade them from working. Depriving them of assistance will only exacerbate their poverty, and cost Americans in other ways.