NCLEJ Condemns the Trump Administration’s Executive Order Directing Stricter Work Requirements in Public Benefits Programs

The Trump Administration’s April 10, 2018 Executive Order is a cruel and heartless attack on low-income individuals and families. In requiring federal agencies to take steps to add or strengthen work requirements for recipients of all means-tested assistance programs, including food assistance, Medicaid, and low-income housing subsidies., it perpetuates the lie that public benefits recipients are living comfortable lives and simply choose not to work.

In fact, large numbers of recipients do work, but too often the jobs pay low wages, have limited hours, and offer no benefits. Low wages mean that even those with a full-time job do not earn enough to meet their families’ most basic needs for food, housing, and medical care. For low-wage workers, public benefit programs provide critical supplements that help workers make ends meet or provide temporary support during periods of joblessness. Many of those recipients who do not work cannot do so because they have family caretaking responsibilities, physical or mental health issues that limit work, or other barriers to work. Moreover, research shows that work requirements in current programs, such as SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) do not lift people out of poverty. Instead, they result in individuals losing assistance and being thrown into crisis and deeper poverty. Rather than tackling the real needs of low-income people for decent jobs at decent wages, this Executive Order further demonizes public benefits recipients and seeks to expand draconian work rules to additional safety net programs.

NCLEJ denounces this message by the Trump Administration that low income individuals are undeserving of essential benefits and basic human dignity. NCLEJ will continue to fight for fair treatment of low-income individuals and families, for fair wages and workplaces, and public programs that provide essential work support and assistance to those unable to work.