Editorial: Jobs are no panacea

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that instructs federal agencies to strengthen rules requiring recipients of public assistance to work. The order specifically calls for enforcing work requirements already in the law and reviewing exemptions to those requirements, as well as adding work requirements where they do not already exist. There’s just one problem with demanding that recipients work: Most of them already do.
Take food stamps, for instance. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as it is now known, provides food assistance to people in poverty. The president has claimed that people on public assistance abuse the programs, and those who have “no intention of working at all” do better than those working multiple jobs. Not only is there no evidence for such a claim, the facts say just the opposite.
In Oregon, U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show most SNAP recipients live in households with at least one person working. In the 2nd Congressional District, USDA figures show that in 2016, only 15 percent of families receiving SNAP benefits had no one in the household working in the previous 12 months. The remaining 85 percent had one or more people working.
The president’s executive order also aims at Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and subsidized housing programs, aiming to “empower individuals by providing opportunities for work ... moving people into the workforce and out of poverty.”
The assumption behind that language is that a job will magically cure poverty. The legions of working poor would beg to differ.

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