Trump and Republicans are taking aim at programs that help the poor. That’s nothing new.


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Wednesday’s Dispatch: Trump targeting programs that help poor people is not new

It became clear last week that after tax reform, Republicans would pivot to reforming entitlement programs. More specifically, President Donald Trump called for “welfare reform” during a speech on Nov. 29. And now, the Wall Street Journal reports conservatives are pushing for Republican leaders to take up the matter next year.

While a focus on welfare reform would be new, the Republican goals for reform are not. The GOP has long aimed to scale down programs like food stamps and cash assistance to low income families.

And despite 2018 being a midterm election year, Republicans still appear poised to pursue the contentious topic.

On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture began to pave the way for reforms to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — the official name for the food stamps program. One in eight Americans, or 44 million citizens, now rely on SNAP benefits, which cost the federal government about $70 billion.

“The American dream has never been to live on government benefits,” Brandon Lipps, the Department of Agriculture acting deputy undersecretary who oversees SNAP, wrote in a letter outlining his goals to reform the program. He also called for holding SNAP “recipients accountable for personal responsibility.”

In the budget Trump put forward in May, the administration proposed substantial cuts to other aid programs like SNAP. Also affected were programs that help cover heating costs for low-income Americans and provide nutritional assistance to mothers and infants.

The economic and social policy research think tank Urban Institute found one in five Americans serviced by five safety net programs would be impacted by the cuts, losing an average of $1,230 in annual resources. Roughly 2.9 million families were estimated to lose $2,500 annually. And nearly 80% of those affected make $30,000 or less annually, said Elaine Waxman, the study’s author.

On top of this, the Trump administration has already said states will be allowed to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. Democrats have long rejected requiring people to work to receive health care, while Republicans have long championed the idea.

It’s notable that the tax cuts passed by Senate Republicans on Saturday could pay for a decade’s worth of food stamps; nutrition and health care for infants and mothers; heating assistance for low-income families; and cash grants to poor, struggling households.

Today’s question: Should these social safety net programs be reduced?

Please email with your thoughts.

Wednesday in Trump’s America:

Shutdown watch: Republicans are trying to muster enough votes to pass a bill to keep the government open for two weeks after this Friday — long enough to pull together a two-year spending deal. Here’s why a fight over protecting 800,000 immigrants is complicating that move. And a new poll shows Americans are united in their opposition to a shutdown.

Tax bill: Senate and House Republicans are hammering out the differences between their tax plans. Meanwhile, the GOP tax plan has little support.

Experts are finding the hastily prepared bill, including its hand-written changes, has riddled the Senate-passed legislation with loopholes and errors. One issue will nullify a hugely popular research and development tax break. Another may let certain companies largely avoid paying taxes.

Roy Moore: Though Trump and the Republican National Committee threw support behind the Alabama Senate candidate, Senate Republicans are still keeping their distance. But they also say they’re not surprised by the RNC and Trump’s support. Meanwhile, the RNC won’t defend its support of Moore publicly.

New DHS head: Kirstjen Nielsen was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security by the Senate on Tuesday. Nielsen is deputy chief of staff at the White House and loyal to chief of staff John Kelly.

Russia investigation: The government has spent $6.7 million over the past five months on investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team spent $3.2 million of that amount.

Donald Trump Jr. will testify in a closed hearing Wednesday before House investigators about his knowledge of Russian influence on the election. And Democrats are renewing their push on legislation to protect Mueller from presidential interference into his investigation.

Impeachment vote: Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) plans to force a vote on impeaching Trump on Wednesday. Republicans are expected to unite against the vote, while Democrats will have to make a hard decision about whether to vote “yes.”

John Conyers: The Michigan Democrat resigned from Congress on Tuesday amid sexual harassment allegations. Members of the Black Congressional Caucus told Politico they felt there has been a double standard in treatment of Conyers vs. white men like Moore, Trump and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

Wedding cake: The Supreme Court may be leaning toward backing a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in the state. The Court heard the case on Tuesday.

Jerusalem: Trump is giving the Middle East peace process the “kiss of death” by recognizing Jerusalem on Wednesday as the capital of Israel, a top Palestinian official told the BBC. The city is sacred to Jews and Muslims, as well as Christians. The pope called on Trump to keep the status quo.

Today’s MicBite:

A new report details how police failed to prevent violence during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year. Mic breaks it down. Click or tap the video below to watch.