Days after administration promised not to touch food stamps, Trump budget reportedly will cut them

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

“As far as I’m concerned we have no proposed changes” to the food stamps program, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told congressmen last Wednesday. “You don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.”

Perdue’s comments, delivering during a Wednesday House Agriculture Committee hearing, seemed to signal that President Donald Trump would not seek to shrink America’s efforts to help low-income families feed themselves.

Yet just five days later, a leaked budget document seems to show the White House is going back on Perdue’s commitment — contemplating some combination of policy changes and outright budget cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) and other key food supports for the poor.

The leaked spreadsheet lists proposed budget requests for thousands of different government line items, without any of the accompanying policy information that would explain the changes underlying shifts in spending. Without those details, observers can only speculate about what is driving Trump’s proposed changes to federal spending. But the document shows clear and substantial cuts from 2017 budget levels.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) would be cut by more than a billion dollars — from about $6.3 billion budgeted for the current fiscal year to just $5.2 billion for the next.

SNAP would lose some $8 billion according to the figures listed in the document, a nearly 10 percent cut to a program that’s already seen benefit amounts drop precipitously for vulnerable families thanks to Obama-era panic about deficits.

The Commodity Assistance Programs which subsidize food banks and other nutrition service charities, would also be trimmed back by $20 million, a cut of roughly 6 percent.

Perdue’s comments to the House Agriculture Committee were newsworthy because they run counter to expectations. Trump’s public commitment to seek $800 billion in combined cuts to so-called “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security was widely interpreted to mean that SNAP and WIC would be targeted as well.

The Agriculture Secretary’s assurances to the contrary seemed to mean good news for the 7.7 million mothers and young children who rely on WIC and the roughly 40 million Americans who use SNAP dollars to fill out their shopping budget.

But the leaked budget proposal document suggests the opposite. It is dated May 8, according to the policy organization that obtained the sheet. That means Trump’s apparent food aid cuts wishlist was put together nine days before Perdue assured the public cuts were not coming.

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Reposted from Think Progress.

Alan Pyke is the Deputy Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress.org. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he was a blogger and researcher with a focus on economic policy and political advertising at Media Matters for America, American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, and PoliticalCorrection.org. He previously worked as an organizer on various political campaigns from New Hampshire to Georgia to Missouri. His writing on music and film has appeared on TinyMixTapes, IndieWire’s Press Play, and TheGrio, among other sites.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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