Poor get poorer in Trump’s economy

The president’s policies favor tax breaks for rich folks and cuts to safety nets

The author, a Chico resident, is a Chico State alum and former small-business owner.

Donald Trump claims that the U.S. has “the strongest economy in the history of our nation.” Economic indicators show strength, but only for a select few. To wit, 2018 was the first time in our history billionaires paid a lower income tax rate than the working class. Indeed, income inequality—the separation of wealth between the rich and the poor—is at a 50-year high.

While employment in the service sector has shown steady growth, a downturn in the manufacturing sector is dipping deeper into recessionary levels. Trump’s trade war has caused catastrophic losses in agriculture; the majority of Trump’s $28 billion agriculture bailout went to corporate agri-business; and very little was realized by the family farms that are suffering from devastating market losses.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor ’s November job growth numbers were inflated by GM’s 48,000 striking workers returning to work and the 13 million people who are working two (or more) jobs.

Keep in mind that the $7.25 federal minimum wage hasn’t risen in a decade; government reports show that 11.1 percent of American households are food insecure; 38 million Americans live below the official poverty level; inflation-adjusted wages haven’t risen in 40 years; and homelessness in America increased 2.7 percent in 2018-19, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

So it’s especially cruel that Trump has ordered the Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, to begin implementing new rules that redefine eligibility requirements for program participation.

A just-released study by the Urban Institute examined the USDA’s new rules in combination and found that 3.7 million fewer people will receive SNAP in an average month; 2.2 million households will see their monthly benefits drop by $127; another 3 million will see a $37 per month drop; and 982,000 schoolchildren will lose access to free or reduced lunches.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan referred to those who needed public assistance for basic necessities as “welfare queens.” Is that what hungry people are to the Trump administration?