WHY THEY MATTER
There is a growing body of research shows that government safety-net programs not only relieve immediate hardship but also improve children's future health and economic prospects. And in one of the world's wealthiest countries that claims "Christianity" as its moral compass, it is both a tragedy and an embarrassment that anyone go hungry or homeless.
U.S. law provides a variety of safety-net programs for people in need:
SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
WIC – Women, Infants and Children
TANF – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Section 8 – Housing Choice Vouchers
Medicaid – See our Health Care page
Unfortunately, there is a very real disconnect between raising people out of poverty and the perception that poverty is a choice. Social safety nets routinely come under attack by critics wielding an argument that is as misleading as it is familiar. Measures such as subsidized health insurance, food and nutrition programs, and targeted cash payments to the poor, it is said, incentivize idleness, encourage freeloading, and create a culture of dependency. In response, policymakers cut funding, allow inflation to erode benefits, and make social programs harder for people to access.
Missouri and Kansas continue to add work and other benefit requirements that limit the household’s eligibility and/or ability to secure and hold gainful employment. (For example, in Missouri, a household cannot have more than one car to receive TANF benefits. Too bad for you, second person who needs a car to get to work.)
This is compounded and complicated by the current minimum wage standard and the lack of affordable child care.
We all are aware that America lags well behind most Western industrialized nations in addressing poverty. We must do more to address any immediate hardship and help advance recipients’ future economic prospects, while acknowledging that some people simply cannot work.
Needless to say, we fight policies that put these programs at risk.
CALLS TO ACTION
POOR PEOPLE CAN EITHER STARVE OR FREEZE
From our friends at Logans List:
"The Trump administration has announced a plan that would cut food stamp benefits for approximately 750,000 people; the plan will make it harder for states to get waivers from a SNAP requirement that beneficiaries either work or be enrolled in vocational training and will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, Dec. 5th; presumably, it will then be available for our comment.
"This is only one of three proposals that the Trump administration is backing: one seeks to adapt “the types of government benefits that automatically qualify families for SNAP” and other changes the “approach to calculating standard utility allowances.” It is estimated that the 3 programs together would limit food stamps for 2.1 million households.
"As far as this administration is concerned, poor people can either starve or freeze. Let’s comment, and let’s tell our MoCs that we expect them to fight for SNAP recipients."
BILLS WE ARE WATCHING
Click through to read more about bills, their status, full text, sponsors and how specific elected representatives voted. (Best viewed on a larger screen.)
Colors bars to the left of bills indicate IKC support (green) or oppostion (red).
We will be ranking more pieces of proposed legislation in the 2020 session. If you'd like to help us sort through the bills introduced regarding government safety nets, go to our volunteer form, here.
**Data supplied by Bill Track 50**