Redefining Poverty Doesn’t Put Food on the Table or Pay for Critical Health Care
This morning, the Trump administration floated a proposal to redefine the poverty threshold in order to squeeze more people off critical programs that meet their basic needs.
Quick Facts on Poverty and Trump
Last year, the Trump Administration claimed that “our War on Poverty is largely over and a success.” This was definitely fake news: One in eight women 18 and older (almost 16 million women) lived in poverty in 2017, and women of color and women with disabilities experience even higher poverty rates.
In 2018, the Official Poverty Measure was $25,900 for a family of four. People understand that $25,900 isn’t enough to provide for a family, and the data bear that out. According to one think tank’s calculations, a family of four in Pittsburgh, PI would need nearly $79,000 in income to have a modest, but adequate, standard of living. In Eaton County, MI, a family of four would need over $77,000.
What This Proposal Means
This proposal to change the Official Poverty Measure so it changes each year at a slower rate is a cruel attack on people already struggling to make ends meet. If this change goes into effect, it will affect eligibility for programs using the poverty guidelines, kicking more people off critical programs that help women, children, and families meet their basic needs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid). This will especially harm women, who are overrepresented in the low-wage workforce and are more likely to participate in these programs.
This proposed rule may seem like a small technical change, but make no mistake: it is a cold, calculated attack on working–class people and will make a big difference for families who are struggling to live paycheck to paycheck. Redefining poverty doesn’t help put food on the table, keep a roof over families’ heads, pay for critical health care, or secure a better quality job.
Bottom line—Trump is putting out more .
Trump Is Willfully Out of Touch with Everyday People
This administration has relentlessly pushed proposals that will take SNAP and Medicaid away from people who cannot find a job or do not get enough hours at work. Now it is floating a proposal to take critical supports away from the working poor—people doing their very best but still struggling to provide basics like food, shelter, and health care while living paycheck to paycheck. And these proposals come after Trump signed legislation that added $1.9 trillion to the deficit to give tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy.
The facts show that having health care and food helps people work and helps people meet their basic needs while in between jobs. Trump’s proposal to change how poverty is measured from year to year is yet another attack on women’s health and economic security. Instead of all these tactics to take food, health care, and more away from low-income families, our government should work on policies that would actually help women, children, and families who are struggling to make ends meet such as raising the minimum wage, expanding access to high-quality affordable child care, increasing access to vital programs like Medicaid and SNAP, enforcing and strengthening anti-discrimination laws, and passing real paid family and medical leave.
Stay tuned for more information about how you can tell Trump that he can’t redefine poverty away.