Republicans love to tout “smaller government” and “protecting small business owners.”
Well, if the facade hasn’t fallen away yet, perhaps the next installment of targeted genocide against the poor emanating from the Trump administration will deliver the message.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated last week the White House seeks to impose fees on retailers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps.
The government would assess fees when stores sign up for SNAP, and would require renewal every five years. According to the OMB, these “modest,” “reasonable” fee amounts would depend on retailers’ sizes and types, and generate $2.4 billion in revenue over the next ten years.
An OMB official said:
“Although a small number of stores may choose to leave the program rather than pay the fee, we do not expect that this will affect access to authorized stores.”
The grocery industry is already fighting to block a controversial border adjustment tax that would lower export costs but raise import costs. Trump’s proposed food stamp fee would fall entirely on supermarkets, particularly the small “mom and pop” neighborhood bodegas food stamp recipients frequent due to a lack of transportation.
Leslie G. Sarasin is President of the Food Marketing Institute. About Trump’s proposal, she said:
“[Grocers oppose the] flawed policy of imposing fees on food retailers in order to reduce the cost of the federal government’s nutrition assistance benefits to the most needy in our society.”
Brian Lang, director of healthy food access, The Food Trust, said:
“Implementing cuts to that extent are going to have stark consequences for retailers, especially in low-income communities.”
The Trump administration is proposing $191 billion in cuts to the food stamp program over the next decade. The U.S. budget office states these cuts would come from tightening work qualification requirements, but details would be left to individual states. The administration also expects states to compensate for some lost funding.
According to the Food Marketing Institute, food stamps accounted for approximately 5.8 percent of an estimated $669 billion in annual grocery store sales. For some retailers, though, it accounts for much more. Walmart, for example, is the largest supermarket in the country.
Retail analyst Craig Johnson of Customer Growth Partners estimates Walmart generates $16 billion in food stamp sales a year, about twenty-three percent of federal food stamp spending.
After the government restricted food stamp benefits in 2013, Walmart reported a 0.9 percent decline in its quarterly grocery sales.
Craig Johnson said:
“They may be calling it out as an excuse for under performance. But it will be a small marginal impact.”
But Walmart is a massive corporation, and it will be fine.
This proposal is not surprising coming from a White House that has consistently acted in the interest of transnational corporations and promotes deregulation as a means to “create jobs.”
Let’s not be fooled: this is nothing more than another bald-faced attack on the poor and “takers;” i.e., the most vulnerable among us who require the most help.
Featured image from Public Radio – East.