New Multi-State Coalition Opens Lawsuit Because Of Food Stamps Requirements

No presidential administration has been the subject of more lawsuits than Trump’s. But that should come as a surprise to no one. What might be more interesting to those who support him is how many of them are brought on by multi-state coalitions. After all, Republicans are supposed to be the party that supports state rights and powers over federal ones. 

The latest lawsuit is the result of new regulations requiring certain categories of food stamp recipients to work or go without. More than a dozen states have supported the lawsuit, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Minnesota, Vermont, Virginia, and Rhode Island.

Trump is big on bragging about how much he gets done. One of those stories involves lifting people off of entitlements — even though he did it by making those entitlements much more difficult to acquire. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) will formally limit state rights in eliminating work requirements as of April 2020. When the new regulation is finally implemented, about 688,000 people might lose their food stamps.

The new lawsuit says that the new regulations are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law…The rule conflicts with the federal statute, the purpose of SNAP, and the clear intent of Congress to alleviate hunger and malnutrition while maintaining States’ flexibility.”

When asked about the new work requirements and waiving of state rights overriding them, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that it “lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them.”

Perdue added, “We need to encourage people by giving them a helping hand but not allowing it to become an indefinitely giving hand. Now, in the midst of the strongest economy in a generation, we need everyone who can work, to work.”

The fine print is important, though. That’s because adults who “can work” are already required to do so by the old laws. Those who aren’t disabled and don’t have kids — but who don’t work — can only receive benefits for no more than three months in three years. Those who are working are entitled to more. 

The lawsuit was built because right now states have the right to waive the work requirement in certain situations, such as when unemployment is high. Certainly, the new restrictions are being excused by Perdue on the basis of a strong economy — but strong economies are ephemeral, and the new rules are certainly not tied to the whims of the economy.