Love them or hate them, the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress are hard at work attempting to implement sweeping change in several core areas that rely on federal involvement. Tax reform, which looks to be close to passing, is only the beginning. Next up? Welfare and entitlement reform:
While candidate Donald Trump pledged to protect some safety net programs, conservatives have long wanted to devolve control of social programs to the states and impose stricter work and drug testing rules. Now that they control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Republicans believe they have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul those programs, which they have long argued are wasteful, are too easily exploited and promote dependency.
“People are taking advantage of the system and then other people aren’t receiving what they really need to live, and we think it is very unfair to them,” Trump said in October.
The president is expected to sign the welfare executive order as soon as January, according to multiple administration officials, with an eye toward making changes to health care, food stamps, housing and veterans programs, not just traditional welfare payments.
The entire Politico piece is worth a read, long though it is (and if reading bothers you, there’s a handy audio file of someone reading the piece verbatim at the top of the story). It essentially covers the debate: Republicans see welfare reform as a key issue in 2018, particularly as it relates to Medicaid and asking states to enforce work-requirement rules on able-bodied recipients, and the $70 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps).:
In recent days, Ryan said he hopes to embark on entitlement and welfare reform next year. He has said entitlement reform — an overhaul of programs like Medicare and Medicaid that has been his priority since his days as Budget chairman — is essential for tackling the debt, which is set to surge by $1 trillion under the Republican tax reform bill, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
“We have a welfare system that’s basically trapping people in poverty and effectively paying people not to work, and we’ve got to work on that,” he said in a recent radio interview.
Democrats, including the always predicable Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), really, REALLY hate the idea and see the whole thing as an attack on the poor.
“Paul Ryan just admitted that after providing $1 trillion in tax breaks to the top 1% and large corporations, Republicans will try to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and help for the most vulnerable Americans,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the third-ranking GOP senator, has said the Senate will work on entitlement reform if the House sends them something to consider. He added that welfare reform is “not a matter of cutting programs.”
“It is a matter of making them work better for future generations,” he said. “They are not sustainable along their current trajectory.”
Democrats and their media mouthpieces, in trying to spin away the economic reality that entitlements are reaching epic levels of expense and abuse, are trying a new tactic: the proposed reforms will “royally screw Trump voters” because they could cut into Health Insurance (and this writer uses the Center for American Progress quote from the Politico piece to make her point. Which, if you’re trying to appeal to conservatives, is never a good idea.)
So brace yourselves for more change, America. Trump has indicated he could sign an executive order starting the process as soon as January. Love them or hate them, they’re working up there on The Hill.