Food stamp policy is going to change, and not for the better.
Enter Georgia’s own Sonny Perdue, who serves as the Secretary of Agriculture under the Trump administration.
He has been panning the food stamps program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), all year. There’s been a push — both in this state and across the nation — to go back to having a work requirement. If you are an able-bodied adult, you are given a three-month grace period in which you can receive food stamps without working at least 80 hours a month (and, no, going back to school or through a vocational training program does not count).
It’s a great way to kick people off the rolls, something Republicans seem to excel at (yes, I am looking at you Brian Kemp).
Now, Perdue is also criticizing folks with jobs who get food stamps. Under this logic, if you don’t work but get food stamps you are bad, if you do work and get food stamps, you are also bad. Or is it just that if you aren’t a wealthy, white man invested in the status quo, then this administration wants to take you down a notch?
To Perdue and other policy makers: how can you be upset at really obvious consequences — that folks need help paying for food — of bad policy that y’all refuse to change?
Folks who are working and also receive food stamps or use other safety net programs, only have to do so because of the highly problematic values our current policies promote. Conservatives in this country value private companies being able to make absurd, absurd profits over requiring companies to actually pay workers a living wage and provide the barest minimum of benefits.
For instance: the minimum wage.
The minimum wage in Georgia is still technically $5.15 per hour, although the federal minimum wage of $7.25 applies in most cases. Working full time at the federal minimum wage means someone would make about $1,200 per month BEFORE taxes. Their take home pay is even less. And low-wage workers aren’t just anybody, they are disproportionately women of color, meaning that women of color are disproportionately by these sorts of anti-workers policies and laws.
It’s no surprise that at less than $1,200 per month, folks cannot afford food on top of life’s other expenses. This is an obvious consequence of having such a low minimum wage, yet conservatives want to punish folks for living under this reality.
This doesn’t even touch on the fact that tipped workers, farm workers and domestic workers (like nannies and home health aids) are all exempt from even getting paid such an astoundingly low minimum wage, and often make even LESS.
Workers are also navigating other crummy labor policies at the state and federal level. Worker misclassification is an increasingly rampant problem. This is when an employer illegally treats an employee as an “independent contractor.” By doing so, they no longer have to pay their portion of the employee’s taxes, pay overtime or comply with many workplace laws that protect employees.
Once again, a really obvious consequence of this sort of policy (or lack of policy protections) is that workers aren’t doing so well. Even when they work multiple jobs, they have less stability at work, less predictable incomes, and smaller paychecks as a direct result of the terrible policies we have in place.
But Republicans like Perdue are committed to punishing these people — by literally letting them starve — rather than address the underlying policies that make food insecurity a reality for at least one in five Georgians and one in seven Americans.
WTF, Sonny Perdue?