business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The New York Times this morning that "the Trump administration, brushing aside tens of thousands of protest letters, gave final approval on Wednesday to a rule that will remove nearly 700,000 people from the federal food-stamp program by strictly enforcing federal work requirements.

"The rule, which was proposed by the Agriculture Department in February, would press states to carry out work requirements for able-bodied adults without children that governors have routinely been allowed to waive, especially for areas in economic distress. The economy has improved under the Trump administration, the department argued, and assistance to unemployed, able-bodied adults was no longer necessary in a strong job market."

points out that "Americans who live in cold-weather states like Vermont, New York and South Dakota could be the next to feel the impact of the Trump administration’s efforts to tighten food-stamp eligibility.

"That’s because the Department of Agriculture wants to change how heating and other utility bills are calculated into a family’s expenses. When people apply for food stamps, they subtract their state’s typical utility costs from their income, which provides the program with an idea of how much they have left for other expenses. That, in turn, helps determine their food-stamp benefits."

The story says that "the proposed overhaul may hurt poor residents of many cold-weather states by reducing the amount they can deduct for utility costs, according to a new analysis from the Urban Institute. About 29 states would see a decline in funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the food-stamp program is formally known, although the hardest-hit would be those with costly winter heating bills, it found. The USDA has not specified when the overhaul could happen."

The Times says that "the change is expected to shave nearly $5.5 billion from food stamp spending over five years."

Spending that has taken place in a lot of US supermarkets, which are about to share a $5.5 billion haircut.
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