REUTERS

Dope Whisperer Trump's Executive Order on 'Welfare' Is Another Dog-Whistle to Racists

President Donald Trump quietly signed an executive order on Tuesday designed to make changes to public assistance programs in the United States. Per the president’s outline, low-income Americans receiving assistance when it comes to food, housing and medical benefits must enter the workforce or potentially lose their benefits.


The order, of course, does not put into law any specific changes. However, it contains a call to action: the heads of the Departments of Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Education have 90 days to review their respective programs and submit changes in policy and procedure.

The order, called “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,” refers numerous times to “welfare” which is not the actual name of any assistance program but has historically referred to cash-assistance programs. Trump wants to expand this definition to also include food and medical assistance,
the New York Times reported.

According to the Times, a few of Trump’s aides reported that the president “is unconcerned or perhaps even unaware of the distinction between cash assistance and other safety-net programs.

“He calls all of them ‘welfare,’ they said.”

The term “welfare” also carries with it implications that most people who receive government assistance are African American. A
HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted earlier this year found that 59 percent of Americans believe either that most welfare recipients are Black or that Blacks and whites receive welfare at roughly the same rate.

Forty-one percent of Trump voters, meanwhile, said Blacks are the majority of “welfare” recipients.

This perception not only spreads false stereotypes but also affects how Americans view government-assistance programs.

According to a
TalkPoverty report from January:

“Martin Gilens, a professor of political science at Princeton University, has studied the relationship between whites’ racial attitudes and their
opinion on welfare extensively. In one study, he finds that white people’s racial attitudes are the single most important influence on their views on welfare. In other words, white people who are more prejudiced toward black people are also significantly more opposed to welfare. Numerous studies in the social sciences have substantiated this claim.”

According to HuffPost, of 2016 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) the formal term for food stamps recipients were 36.2 percent white, about a quarter Black, 17.2 percent Hispanic and 15.5 percent unknown. And the majority of people receiving SNAP do not receive any monetary benefits, according to
SNAP to Health.

Rebecca Vallas, VP of poverty for the Center for American Progress, called out Trump’s order for exactly what it is.

Misconceptions persist within the White House, too. Our country suffers from nearly record high welfare enrollments,” Andrew Bremberg, domestic policy chief to Trump, told reporters this week. Part of President Trump’s effort to create a booming American economy includes moving Americans from welfare to work.”

The Department of Agriculture reported in November that during fiscal year 2016, in close to one-third of SNAP households, someone is in fact working. The majority of those receiving benefits, though, are children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Forty-four percent of participants were under age 18, 12 percent were age 60 or older, and 9 percent were disabled nonelderly adults,” the department reported.

The same goes for Medicaid recipients. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation:

Among Medicaid adults (including parents and childless adults the group targeted by the Medicaid expansion), nearly 8 in 10 live in working families, and a majority are working themselves. Nearly half of working Medicaid enrollees are employed by small firms, and many work in industries with low employer-sponsored insurance offer rates.

Among the adult Medicaid enrollees who were not working, most report major impediments to their ability to work including illness or disability or care-giving responsibilities.”

The notion that Trump is moving Americans from welfare to work” has been going on for some time now, according to the Department of Agriculture. In fact, this shift has been one of the most significant changes over the last quarter century: In 1991, 41 percent of all SNAP households received cash welfare benefits and 20 percent had earnings. In 2016, only 5 percent received cash welfare, while 32 percent had earnings.”

According to SNAP to Health, only three-quarters of people who are eligible for the program even participate.

Trump has expressed his own prejudice with welfare”; last year while meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus someone said to Trump that not everyone receiving welfare benefits is Black.

Really Then what are they” Trump questioned.

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