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Trump Administration Preparing Cuts To Welfare

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The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to enact cuts to welfare programs during 2018, a move that has strong support among conservative Republicans in Congress.

President Donald Trump will meet with top Republicans at his Camp David retreat on Jan. 6 and 7 to discuss upcoming priorities, according to Reuters.

The news agency suggested that the GOP is planning to cut back on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. Reductions to funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families could also be in the works.

"He definitely gets it," Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a leading member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said of Trump's stance on welfare reform.

More than 42 million Americans in close to 21 million households received food stamps in 2017. The total cost of the program was $58 billion. Trump proposed in his 2017 budget to cut spending on food stamps by $192 billion over 10 years.

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TANF provided help to 1.1 million families during 2017.

Cutting back on these programs could prove challenging for the GOP, since the reforms would impact many people in poor and rural areas, widely seen as Trump's base.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republicans are said to be less keen on the idea of welfare reform.

"Convincing Mitch McConnell and the Democrats are Herculean tasks," Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the Freedom Caucus chairman, said of the prospect of passing welfare reform.

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As Republicans drew close to passing their tax cutting legislation in December 2017, Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin indicated welfare reform would be the next priority.

"We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit," stated Ryan, a strident advocate of spending restraint, The Washington Post reports. "Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements -- because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking."

Ryan also said he had started to convince Trump that cuts to Medicare, which funds health care for the elderly, are necessary.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump vowed not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Politico reported in December 2017 that White House staff were working on an executive order that would mandate a review of federal programs like SNAP, Medicaid and housing benefits. It also noted that GOP members of Congress were in the early stages of drafting legislation to toughen the qualifying criteria for various welfare programs.

Sources: Reuters, The Washington Post, Politico / Featured Image: Joyce N. Boghosian via The White House/Flickr / Embedded Images: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Speaker Paul Ryan

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