Trump Push to Scale Back Welfare Programs Has Republicans on Edge

A White House-led drive to downsize government aid programs would energize conservative campaign donors whose support Republicans are counting on ahead of the November elections.


(Reuters) — Emboldened by his victory in the passage of the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in decades, President Donald Trump now wants to rein in social welfare programs even though some Republicans are wary of tackling the volatile issue in a congressional election year.

A White House-led drive to downsize government aid programs such as food stamps and housing subsidies would energize conservative campaign donors whose support Republicans are counting on ahead of the November elections where the party will fight to keep control of Congress.

White House aides say Trump is eager to take on welfare. He has a willing partner in House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, who has long had an interest in the issue.

But some Republicans believe Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is lukewarm on the drive for revising welfare, which might face a difficult sell in the Senate where Republicans hold only a razor-thin 51-49 majority.

Democrats already are attacking Trump for identifying welfare changes as his top 2018 goal, saying they are designed to help pay for tax cuts whose benefits are skewed toward corporations and wealthy individuals and which will add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years.

Trump has summoned Republican congressional leaders to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland this weekend to discuss 2018 priorities, including welfare and a planned effort on infrastructure investment.

Conservative House Republicans are especially enthusiastic about a welfare overhaul. Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows and the caucus’ former leader, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, have discussed it with Trump and are confident the Republican president backs their ideas, such as strengthening work requirements for food stamps.

“He definitely gets it,” Jordan said.

But Republicans may need to tread carefully in seeking to reduce government aid programs that benefit some of Trump’s core supporters in poor, rural regions of the country.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole said Congress had a lot on its plate in the early months of 2018, including must-pass budget legislation and he was unsure there would be the time — or political will in the Senate — to pass welfare legislation.

“First things first,” Cole said, adding it might be better to lay the groundwork for debate over the issue than to try enacting changes this year.

Meadows said he believed a welfare overhaul had strong support among Republican lawmakers but that “convincing Mitch McConnell and the Democrats are Herculean tasks.”

Other Republicans and interest groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers think 2018 would be better spent on infrastructure.


Last year, there were more than 42 million people in nearly 21 million U.S. households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, which are known as food stamps, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

They cost taxpayers about $58 billion.

Trump’s budget proposal last year called for cutting more than $192 billion from SNAP over a decade.

The president also proposed deep cuts to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which last year provided aid to 1.1 million families.

Democratic strategist Doug Thornell said a push on welfare could trigger a political backlash for Republicans from elderly and blue-collar voters in the November congressional elections.

Thornell said it may appeal to Trump’s political base “but few else. And the irony here is that it will be Trump’s base who will feel the brunt of these cuts.”

Robert Doar, a poverty specialist at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute who has been in contact with Trump administration officials about policy ideas, urged an incremental approach.

Although Doar said he did not know what policies the administration would ultimately back, he said Trump could encourage people to get jobs by reducing the length of their qualification for government aid and imposing stricter reviews of their efforts to find work.

He said Congress could pass legislation cutting benefits for people who fail to make enough effort to find jobs or do volunteer work.

Some have argued that food stamp beneficiaries, for example, already include a high rate of people who hold jobs but are unable to make ends meet.

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  • Do they realize the red states use more of these services than the blue and the blue states pay way more into these services as taxes than they use? I hope they do it before the elections. I want the base to immediately notice the difference in their support amounts – particularly for rural communities. Can’t blame the Blacks and Mexicans for that. Oh – and the rest of us – guess we will all get new kitchens with the $1000.00 we may or may not get – God help us! You cannot make this madness up!

    • I hope the next presidential campaign focuses on this. Electoral college votes and federal expenditures need to be allocated by GDP per capita and education success. We keep flushing money down the toilet to red state economic laggards like Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

      There is an absolute connection between voter suppression, poor education, poor GDP per capita and Republicans. Time for it to end

  • “…..And the irony here is that it will be Trump’s base who will feel the brunt of these cuts.”

    And there you have it;

  • Give these people on the welfare roles jobs. Trump owns many businesses. He can start some of the recipients in jobs like housekeeping, grounds maintenance, etc. Pay them as well. Give more than minimum wage and we will have more tax payers in the process.

    • Denise, are you serious? Who in their right mind, would be stupid enough to work for a rapist like little boy donnie?
      They would be better off staying on welfare than to stoop down that low and work for a perverted ass who THINKS he can touch any woman in their private parts because he feels like “he is allowed to”.? Let that pervert pull some bullshit on someone like me. I will promise him one thing. He won’t have any fingers left on that deformed body of his. And there would be nothing that the pervert can do. It’s called self defense, because we are “allowed to”!
      And denise, since when does a woman ( you are a woman, aren’t you?) who respects herself and ALL other woman, stand up and defend a perverted rapist like little boy donnie? Stop defending these disgusting animals!! We are finally on a roll to get rid of ALL of them and they might confuse you as being one too.

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