An analysis of President Trump’s feelings toward social programs by The Washington Post’s Philip Bump makes plain that while he has zero problem doling out government assistance to farmers — an important flank of his base — the president is all too eager to deny federal assistance to America’s poor.
Though “social programs” are not synonymous with “socialism,” as Bump points out, Trump is also eager to paint the two as equal, trashing Democratic reforms as “socialist” but the flow of cash to farmers as a triumph.
Two things happened on Tuesday that highlight this hypocrisy within the Trump administration — and indeed, among Republicans in general.
The Department of Agriculture announced a proposed rule change that would deny food stamps to some 3 million Americans by doing away with automatic registration. Those who qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, for example, automatically qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps.
The estimated savings from this move is about $2.5 billion per year, with a potential $15 billion in savings over the long term, Bump noted.
That’s just about the same amount Trump gifted to American farmers by way of subsidies, after his trade war with China caused them economic harm.
The president boasted about this government assistance in a Tuesday morning tweet: “Farmers are starting to do great again, after 15 years of a downward spiral. The 16 Billion Dollar China “replacement” money didn’t exactly hurt!”
Though Trump previously claimed that China would foot the bill for his crop subsidies by way of paying tariffs, it is largely American consumers who covered the tariff costs.
“So Trump is, in essence, taxing American consumers to pay $16 billion to farmers,” Bump wrote. “The rationale for this is simple, as is the rationale for Trump bragging about handing that money over to farmers: 2020. Farmers almost necessarily live in more rural areas, places that are a stronghold of Trump’s support. Trump is reminding farmers and those who live near farmers that he’s delivering for them, no matter how at odds with his party’s past rhetoric.”
“Replacement money” is no less federal assistance than the food stamp program, but for the president, one form of government aid to the public is more acceptable than the other.
Simultaneously, Trump wants to change food stamp rules to shave $15 billion from the U.S. budget and cut 3 million people from the program while reminding America that he spent $16 billion to bail out 3.4 million farmers.
The message Trump is sending?
“Poor people shouldn’t be poor in this economy and don’t need food stamps,” Bump said. “Farmers do need assistance (thanks to Trump), and that assistance is worth bragging about.”