The God-King’s proposed budget is “science fiction” … of the dystopian kind. (More)

“So we’re pretty excited about that”

So declared Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney as he announced the God-King’s plan to partially replace SNAP benefits with boxes of canned food:

The Trump administration wants to slash food aid to low-income families and make up the difference with a box of canned goods – a change that Office of Management and budget director Mick Mulvaney described in a Monday briefing as a “Blue Apron-type program.”

“What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part – not all, part – of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” Mulvaney said. “It lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they’re getting nutritious food. So we’re pretty excited about that.”

Just to be clear, the Blue Apron program delivers fresh ingredients for high-end recipes and averages about $10 per serving. SNAP benefits average $1.40 per meal … and the God-King wants to replace half of that with a box of “shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned meat, fruits and vegetables.”

I suppose it’s a good deal for companies that make canned goods. But canned meats tend to be high in fat, while canned fruits and juices are high in sugar, and canned vegetables are high in salt. In short, it’s a crappy deal for the working poor:

“Hearing that the Trump Admin is selling this as the ‘Blue Apron-ing’ of SNAP. Um, no,” tweeted Chad Bolt, a senior policy manager at the progressive group Indivisible.

“With Blue Apron, you get to pick your meals and decide when they come. And it gives you all the ingredients you need to complete it,” echoed New York Times op-ed writer Bryce Covert. “Under Trump’s plan, the government decides what you get and when you get it.”

Many anti-hunger advocates and analysts are equally skeptical of the proposed “food box,” which – if approved – would affect 16.4 million households. They say it’s unclear how USDA would deliver the boxes and how much that would cost. Equally unclear is whether USDA would allot the same foods to, say, an elderly diabetic and a family with young children.

“It boggles the mind how that would play out,” said Kathy Fisher, policy director at Philadelphia’s Coalition Against Hunger. “We know SNAP works now, when people can choose what they need. How they would distribute foods to people with specialized diets, or [to people in] rural areas … It’s very expensive and very complicated.”

Grocers are also objecting:

The proposal is also likely to enrage food retailers – particularly Walmart, Target and Aldi – that stand to lose billions if food stamp benefits are cut, analysts say. On Monday, the Food Marketing Institute, a trade association for grocery stores, condemned the Harvest Box proposal as expensive, inefficient and unlikely to generate any long-term government savings.

So why do it? Mulvaney said it would “reduce the risk of fraud,” yet another right-wing lie. First, SNAP fraud is already extremely rare – about 1.5% – while wage theft affects 17% of low-income employees and employers steal roughly a quarter of those employees’ weekly incomes. And the Supreme Court may soon rule block those employees from class action lawsuits and force them to accept mandatory arbitration … as individuals.

Second, SNAP fraud is so rare because, since 2004, all recipients get their benefits via electronic debit cards. Like any electronic transaction, that creates a record of where the card was used and what was purchased. So no, SNAP recipients can’t sell their no-longer-existent food stamps, or trade them for drugs, or use them to buy cigarettes, or to pay for “booze or women or movies.” Republicans peddle those myths to imply the working poor are poor because they’re lazy and immoral … not because their bosses pay them too little to feed their families, and then steal even those wages.

Regardless, the God-King’s budget would cut SNAP funding by 27% … and that’s just the beginning.

His budget would also slash funding for low-income housing:

The proposal would eliminate the entire fund for public housing capital repairs, a savings of nearly $2 billion a year. The cut comes at a time when public housing faces a $40 billion backlog of capital needs, said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In New York City, about 80 percent of public housing tenants suffered heating and hot water outages in recent months because the aging boiler systems are in desperate need of repair, Yentel said.

Trump also proposed cutting a federal housing subsidy program, known as Section 8 vouchers, by nearly $1 billion, which Yentel said would affect more than 250,000 low-income families.

The proposed HUD budget, like last year, would eliminate funding for Community Development Block Grants, which play a key role in disaster recovery, as well as grants to states and local governments to increase homeownership for the lowest-income Americans.

The long-time slumlord returns to his roots. And the hits just keep on coming….

— A 42.3 percent cut to all “non-defense discretionary” spending, from the currently planned level of $756 billion in 2028 to $436 billion. This category includes funding for government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department, certain safety net programs like Head Start, law enforcement spending at the FBI and Department of Justice, and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.

— A 33.7 percent cut to the EPA, a 29.5 percent cut to the National Science Foundation, a 22.2 percent cut to the Army Corps of Engineers (a major infrastructure program), a 21.4 percent cut to the Labor Department, and a 26.9 percent cut to the State Department, among many other discretionary spending cuts.

— A 7.1 percent cut to Medicare by 2028, due to reforms meant to cut payments to providers and reduce wasteful treatment without limiting access to health care. The Affordable Care Act in 2010 included many similar provisions with related goals.

— A 22.5 percent cut to Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies by 2028, through repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The God-King’s budget would also completely eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps working poor families heat their homes.

All to ‘balance’ a $770 billion increase in Pentagon pork, and yet another $550 billion in tax cuts. Yes, really.

Of course the God-King’s budget is dead-on-arrival, as are all presidential budgets. And its supposed “budget reduction” is pure fantasy, based on GDP growth rates that no one outside the Outhouse believes can happen.

But it’s a window into the God-King’s view of the working poor: let ’em sit in the cold, in unrepaired buildings, eating canned food and peanut butter. And when they get sick, let ’em die.

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Image Credits — Moneybag and Mother/Children graphics: Pixabay; Composition: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)

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Good day and good nuts