The Agriculture Department announced they will appeal a court decision saying it is “arbitrary and capricious” to continue cutting hundreds of thousands of people off of the SNAP program while the coronavirus epidemic is still ongoing. According to Federal Judge Beryl Howell, as of April 1, 2020, the federal government will take away the state’s power to waiver its rules.
The courts were already in session and could not change the decision even with the coronavirus epidemic. With the economy in a slump and people beginning to get laid off, this could not have happened at a worse time. An Agriculture Department spokesperson told reporters through an email, “The USDA disagrees with the court’s reasoning and will appeal its decision.”
Currently, the law states, the states have the right to waive the work requirements when the unemployment rate rises. With the court’s ruling, the states would lose that right to waiver, and the Agriculture Department gave the estimated numbers across the nation at around 700,000 people who would automatically lose their benefits.
Due to a group of state attorney generals, a lawsuit was brought forth, which caused Judge Howell to put an immediate freeze on the changes. Judge Howell wrote, “Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential.”
The only way to stop the process was through an appeal, and it happened just in time. Ellen Vollinger, legal director for the advocacy group, the Food Research & Action Center, expressed how the changes were a wrong decision for any circumstance.
With the epidemic taking place worldwide, it puts pressure on low-income families to maintain the required hours when the workers can be laid off at any moment’s notice. It makes for a dangerous situation as the government is working toward containing the spread of the coronavirus. Vollinger said, “You don’t want to have workers going out when they’re sick and trying to document the right number of hours just to keep their benefits.”
A column was written in December in the Arizona Republic, which covered this topic of the abuse of the benefits. Perdue stated the changes expected to pass by the federal court system was to stop people from living comfortably off of the government.
Perdue wrote, “Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream. We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand.”
Getting people off of the benefits is the main goal President Trump wanted to reach. Billions of dollars are wasted on lazy people who feed off of handouts that they do not need or deserve. The government is there to support not provide. If the government were to handle every aspect of our needs, then we would be closer to communism. This is what the President is pulling us away from.
There are some concerns about these types of situations. When a natural disaster such as a hurricane or any given obstacle of Mother Nature’s fury, the government, usually FEMA is available to help pick up the pieces. For any able-bodied working American citizen, situations as mentioned or layoffs should be the only reason we should turn to the government for help.
For decades, the system has been abused. It is almost difficult to have anything good when so many people stole from the system. The old saying goes, “The good have to suffer for the guilty.”
This time, it is the government making the call to have the national state of emergency. In times like what we are witnessing, it would only be fair for the states to have the right to waiver for anyone affected during this time.
Vollinger added some more valid points toward the Agriculture Department. If they continue to fight for the SNAP changes, it would be a possibility they would end up clashing with Congress.
The House of Representatives approved the relief package. By the House’s approval, the federal government cannot step over the state’s boundaries over the SNAP program.
The President made an excellent call to declare a national state of emergency, but the SNAP program seems to be the only argument with any of the benefits involved. The states should have the right to decide whether or not to waive.