Just giving people money: It’s a method backed by extensive research, and it has a bipartisan pedigree. But it is a method the Trump administration, which is likely to oversee a better economy than any administration in two decades, seems loathe to consider. Instead, the president is choosing to increase the ranks of the poor and to slash what support this country does offer those who need it.
The White House’s splashiest ideas to remake the safety net — through the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the conversion of SNAP benefits into a Blue Apron-style delivery box and the merger of federal aid programs into a kind of Department of Welfare — have gone nowhere, and are likely to remain there. Yet the administration has advocated or implemented a number of smaller changes that could push millions of lower-income Americans out of the safety net and into whatever lies beneath.
“Our guys have been in there since the start, grinding it out, and basically no one is noticing it,” Steve Bannon, formerly a White House adviser, has boasted. Those efforts build on and amplify changes made by Republican governors in red and purple states, as well as initiatives from Congress.