Nine U.S. Lawmakers Who Were Once on Food Stamps Ask Trump Not to Shrink Program

A handful of U.S. lawmakers have a unique argument for asking President Donald Trump not to slash the food stamp program – they themselves once relied on it.

The Republican president this week proposed $15 billion in cuts to the $71 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps, as part of his $4.8 trillion budget plan.

Trump argues that many Americans receiving food stamps do not need them, given the strong economy and low unemployment. His administration already has tightened eligibility guidelines for the food assistance program.

In their letter to Trump, nine Democratic lawmakers said they had each participated in the program “during times of financial struggle for our families.”

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi said he was a toddler when his parents, immigrants from India, received food stamps for a couple of years in the 1970s.

“My parents don’t like to talk about it,” he said. Krishnamoorthi’s father was an engineering student in New York, whose job as a teaching assistant did not pay much. When that was suspended, “things were really rough” for them, he said.

Asking the administration to “remove all intended cuts” to the program, the lawmakers said in their letter: “We are writing today on behalf of the over 36 million American families who currently depend on SNAP, like ours once did, to make ends meet and help the next generation achieve upward mobility.”

It was signed by Senator Patty Murray and eight House members: Krishnamoorthi, Barbara Lee, Robin Kelly, Rashida Tlaib, Salud Carbajal, Jahana Hayes, Gwen Moore and Alma Adams.

Trump’s proposals for food stamp cuts are not expected to pass. Even when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, the administration could not get lawmakers to approve them, and Democrats now control the House of Representatives.

But the Trump administration has already stiffened eligibility guidelines for food stamps, a move projected to end benefits for nearly 700,000 people.

Krishnamoorthi said it was important to send a message to the Trump administration that “you really are touching on a support system that a broader swath of society utilizes than you may think.”

The congressman said he did not have a memory of the food stamps, “but I remember I was not hungry.”

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Peter Cooney)


  1. It’s pretty easy to claim that someone doesn’t need food stamps, or that they’re not for long-term assistance. The reality is quite different.

    I was raised by a single mother. Sometimes she worked, sometimes she didn’t. I remember times that we went to apply for food stamps and she was denied, because she made too much money at her last job, or because we had a car, or whatever reason it was that time. Many times she couldn’t take care of me and I would stay with friends or family until she got back on her feet. When I was in my early teens, she was finally diagnosed with a brain tumor that was almost certainly the cause of her sometimes erratic behavior. After that, she was able to get disability, food stamps, and subsidized housing. She also could not work or drive a car after that, even though 99% of the time she seemed perfectly able-bodied. That was when I was able to have a somewhat “normal” childhood. I’m sure she got dirty looks when using food stamps, since she appeared perfectly fine until she finally passed.

    When I was in the military, married with a baby, I would get notices on the bottom of my pay stubs that said I should be eligible for food stamps. I was an E-5 with 5 years in the service. I was not stationed in the US, so I couldn’t apply. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the service, but the idea that an active-duty service member meets the eligibility requirements for food stamps nauseates me. They’re certainly able-bodied, and I wouldn’t consider military service a “temporary” job by any means.

    I’ve got a good, well paying job. My wife has a job with a large employer that was a beneficiary of the huge tax break. She isn’t reliant on her job, but she does it to stay busy and have her own money. The company she works for is crap. She might be scheduled for 35 hours one week, and 4 the next. There is no way that someone could be expected to live on something like that without some kind of safety net. It’s a HUGE employer, with millions of employees in the US. Anyone who works there that is not in management would need to work a second job in order to pay the bills.

    For every fraudster on food stamps, there are probably 10 people who desperately need them. We are a prosperous country, and we can afford to give food to those in need. Companies like the one that my wife works for could probably pay the food stamp bill for all of their employees that need them and still make an enormous profit. Instead, we ask the taxpayers to subsidize their profit.

    1. Ten percent is WAY too high.

      According to this administration: “SNAP’s Quality Control (QC) system earns a solid “A” grade. Over 99 percent of those receiving SNAP benefits are eligible and payment accuracy was 96.20 percent in 2011 –a historic high.”

  2. Set the requirements for food stamps high and get out of the freebies for everyone mode.

  3. Cut the fraud is a good thing. It is also not ment to a way of life.

  4. When less people need food stamps, which is what has happened, then you can shrink the program. That money needs to be free for other areas. What this shows is 9 lawmakers that do not understand we have to get things under control.

    1. “What this shows is 9 lawmakers that do not understand we have to get things under control.” Sherri

      I am confused.

      Do you mean “get things under control” by a nearly $2 TRILLION tax cut of which 83% went to rich people WHO DIDN’T NEED IT! That is confusing, no?

      1. And was the last time a poor man gave you a job? Yes they do get big tax cuts , is fair maybe not. But how many jobs have they put out there?

        1. After getting nearly $2 trillion, they created very few jobs directly related to the tax cut. Look it up. Most of it went into buying back their own stocks.

      2. I’m absolutely certain those “rich people” will be RE-INVESTING any windfall they receive; like in industry stocks, Government bonds or maybe expanding their own businesses, hiring MORE taxpaying workers which in turn provides MORE money for the Government. Not a thing confusing; probably only to the ignorant and the wannabe Commie dictators who need all the POWER and CONTROL they can steal.


        1. Come on, Confused James The Projectionist. EVERYONE who paid attention knows that the vast majority of the tax breaks that companies got went straight into buying back their own stock, to line their own pockets. VERY LITTLE went to improving their companies or to helping their workers. You would be less confused if you ever got out of your tiny bubble.

  5. I have to be honest here. I am currently raising grandchildren (you can thank the pharmaceutical companies for that) and receiving ‘food stamps’, albeit very reluctantly. I am very, very thankful for the assistance even though what I receive does not get me through the month. HOWEVER, it is a glutonous program, which I have had the misfortune of observing first hand.
    As one who would have a very difficult time feeding my grandchildren if I did not receive the ‘food stamp’ (not cash) assistance, I do think the Federal government does need to reduce funding – or at least increase the restrictions for approval. Why? Because just about anyone can be approved for them, and one does not need to speak English or even be a legal resident of this country to receive them. There is an interpreter available for just about any language. I can say that (upon enduring the difficulting of the experience of sitting in a ‘welfare office’) at least one-third of the people that I saw did not speak English. I do not say that in the sense of being discriminatory; I say that purely from an economic perspective insofar as taxpayer dollars go. There are other socio-economic reasons as well (including single-parent families), but I will sum it up with the following story I read years ago in Reader’s Digest:
    A man was walking down the street (Man #1) when he was approached by another man standing on the corner (Man #2). Man #2 steps forward and hands Man #1 a $5.00 bill (okay, inflation, we’ll make it $20.00). Man #1 says, “I can’t accept that. I didn’t earn it.” Man #2 says, “No, I insist. Take it.” After a bit of back-and-forth, Man #1 accepts the $20.00. This continued day after day with less and less resistance from Man #1 to the point where he had his hand out waiting for the $20.00 as he approached Man #2. Well, one day as Man #1 approached Man #2, there was no $20.00 offered to him. So, Man #1 then approaches Man #2 and says to him, “Hey, where’s MY money?”
    And there, my friends, is the welfare system in a nutshell for far too many people who would rather demand an entitlement than contribute to the system it has been led to depend upon. And when I say “led to depend upon,” I mean it was by design to a great extent. There is a reason whey welfare initially enacted the ‘No man in the house’ rule and why the government conducted midnight raids (on predominantly black families) to drive fathers away from their familes. Welfare helped create fatherlessness and deadbeats. My guess is because it made more and more people almost totally dependent upon the government. You can take it from there.

  6. Figures. They’re ALL Democrats. Being on SNAP is meant to be a stop-gap until you can get back on your feet. It was NEVER meant to be a lifestyle choice, unless you want to be a Communist. THEN the state determines how much food you get a month, and what you get to buy with your allotment.

    BTW, SNAP is actually a part of the ‘welfare’ benefit for the nation’s farmers, as it is a part of the USDA, to encourage farmers to stay farming. Well, with the new USMCA (US-Mexico-Canada) trade agreement, as well as the China trade agreement, there’s no need to supplement the farmers’ income now, as they can get full value for their production. Downsizing the program needs to be done as we need to force people off the program on BOTH ends, to force the people who exist on food stamps and don’t need to be on it are needed in the booming workforce… jobs are available and begging for fulfillment, at good wages. When the jobs are plentiful, the people benefit, because they can then demand higher wages… supply and demand.

  7. There has to be something wrong with people who must rely on food stamps for YEARS. It should not take that long to find a J O B and become a self-supporting, responsible adult. Cutting $15 Billion from a $71 Billion program was not enough. Cut should have been much deeper to at least half. Maybe next year Trump will make even deeper cuts and require part-time work to qualify.

    1. May YOU never need to rely on SNAP.

      You ignore that the program is there only as a supplement to whatever income a person/family may already have from a J O B. The recipients are very limited. Due to age, illness or disability, they may not be able to earn even the maximum income allowed, which for this year is $1354/1, to $2790/4. RENT is likely to be way more than that, let along rent for a half decent place to live. What about medical costs or even transport costs for medical care? These aren’t Reagan’s imaginary “welfare queens”, ya know.

      So enough of your crocodile tears about poor or disadvantaged people needing support. If the minimum wage was a LIVING wage, fewer people would need to rely on supplemental support. If we had a better economy for everyone, rather than the few, many fewer would need support.

      As it is, 36 MILLION families rely on SNAP just to ensure having half decent food on the table. That is a disgraceful comment about where we are and who we are as a nation. You don’t “fix” it by bumping people off of SNAP and say, “See? Fewer people are on SNAP! Things are way better now!” Fool.

      1. @General Confusion, I understand where you are coming from. However, as someone who does currently depend on SNAP benefits to feed my grandchildren, I can tell you that the program has become a monster that feeds off itself. I am one of those unfortunate recipients who found myself in a difficult situation I neither intended nor planned for. That said, I have endured the humilitaiton of sitting in a welfare office, I can can say with certainty that welfare has become a generational social ‘condition’. I can also tell you that one does not even need to be a legal resident or have a SSN to receive benefits.
        I would be utterly lost without the SNAP benefits I am sincerely thankful for (even though the do not get me through the entire month), and I know there are so many others like me out there, unfortunately. However, I have to say based upon my own observations that the system is horribly abused. For example, I cannot even tell you how many people who receive SNAP benefits sell them to buy drugs. Yes, it’s a thing. SNAP benefits are such a blessing to those who truly need them to feed dependent children, but it does need a major overhaul because I would venture to guess that more than 25% of recepients are abusing ‘the system’; but, then, where do you begin, right? Thing is, taxpayers simply cannot afford to keep pumping more and more money into social programs that are not benefiting people contributing to them. Remember when the Social Security ‘tax’ used to be a voluntary deduction applied to one’s own retirement? Now it’s another form of welfare that also does not require one to contribute to it in order to benefit from it. Sad, but true.

        1. You don’t fix the system by just bumping 700,000 people off of it willy-nilly. Drug addicts need a proper health care, economy, labor laws, and justice systems to deal with ramifications from their addiction.

          You are right. This isn’t easy. That’s why this administration’s simple “remedy” is the wrong way to deal with things.

        2. Thank you for your honest comment. The program needs cut back in the sense of what is allowed to be purchased to a degree. I have seen those with benefits have numerous packs of soda and bags of chips. There is no nutrition in those type of foods. The purpose is to keep people fed and healthy. Junk food is not healthy. It should be limited in the food stamp program. I grew up on a farm and we weren’t wealthy, neither did we have debt or live off government handouts. My dad paid for whatever we bought and we didn’t borrow money. We also didn’t buy junk food as a grocery staple. It was as a treat only. My mother worked hard growing a garden and canning food. She didn’t work at an outside job though. I am a working single woman with a degree. Many weeks, after paying necessities, I cannot afford to buy groceries. That is just a fact. I imagine most single income wage earners are in the same boat. I live very modestly at that. If one works and makes a certain amount, they aren’t eligible for any help yet all of their money goes toward insurances, transportation and vehicle maintenance, rent or mortgage, home maintenance medical bills that your purchased insurance didn’t cover, on and on. It costs a lot to be a responsible citizen.
          I love the story you quoted. So true. The program is for people, like yourself, that due to circumstances, they become financially strapped. It should not be as a way of life. I also do not understand when people cannot afford to raise one child without government assistance, why they continue to have more? I would not want to see the program gone but to place more restrictions, on it. In various ways.

        3. “it does need a major overhaul because I would venture to guess that more than 25% of recepients are abusing ‘the system’” Tess

          And you would be wrong. Don’t guess.

          According to the current administration, the eligibility rate is now 99% accurate.

      2. Yes my wife and I had applied for food stamps many years ago. We had five children at the time and wife lost her job. I made just over 25000 a year and we drove old cars. She had a budget of 60 a week for food. When we applied they told us we didn’t qualify. I would go to the store and watch people buying steaks and get into nice new cars and be talking their cell phones. But when they would pay for their groceries they would pull out their food stamps. I knew a women who was single and having a baby, when she had to stop working she applied for help and told her she have sell her car and then she might qualify. Because she had loan on it. Cut the fraun then tell me he’s wrong

      3. So pleased to see YOU AGREE “things are way better now!” under PRESIDENT TRUMP. Because of PRESIDENT TRUMP’s policies, some 8 million FEWER people are on food stamps than just 3 years ago under the anti-American Marxist. Makes a HUGE difference when there is an America-loving LEADER in the WH.

    2. Most Snap benefits go to seniors, the disabled and children. We need to get them out working so we can cut benefits and cut Trump’s trillion dollar deficit created by the tax cuts.

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