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Republicans want Big Government, too. They just want it to help fewer people.

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Leave it to Congress to take food away from 2 million poor people and somehow save no money in the process.

The House farm bill, scheduled for a vote Friday, contains a major overhaul to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as food stamps). In many ways, the legislation — which, in a break with tradition, was written entirely by Republicans — contains objectives shared by people on both sides of the aisle. These include helping low-income people find more stable work and encouraging noncustodial parents to contribute financially to their kids’ upbringing.

However noble such goals are, though, the actual consequence of the bill would be a gigantic, expensive new government bureaucracy — one that eats up nearly all the “savings” from kicking people off food stamps, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

The most controversial part of the bill, and the part that President Trump has reportedly made a condition of his signature, involves work requirements.

To be clear, the food-stamp system already has work requirements. Under current law, working-age SNAP beneficiaries, with some modest exceptions, must work or participate in training programs. Those who don’t can lose some or all of their benefits. For example, able-bodied adults under the age of 49, without dependents, can get food stamps for just three months of every three years, unless they prove they’re working at least 20 hours a week. And states can impose stricter work requirements if they choose.

The bill House Republicans wrote would ratchet up these requirements, for every state. It would force every able-bodied person from ages 18 to 59, and without a preschool-aged child, to prove they are either working or in a qualified job-training program for at least 20 hours per week.

They would also have to submit documentation to prove and re-prove their eligibility every month. Miss a single month, and the penalty would be steep: They could be locked out of the system for an entire year.

Most able-bodied food-stamp recipients, it turns out, are already working. So you might wonder what the big deal is.

Well, aside from apparently abandoning Republicans’ supposed commitment to states’ rights, there are a few problems with this proposed “reform.”

One is that low-wage workers often have limited control over their work schedules. If a restaurant cuts a single mom’s hours one week because business is slow, or she has to miss a few days because her child care


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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-want-big-government-too-they-just-want-it-to-help-fewer-people/2018/05/17/03998746-5a10-11e8-8836-a4a123c359ab_story.html

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