Rebecca Vallas Profile picture
Apr 11, 2018 23 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Tonight, Donald Trump signed an executive order that sums up how little he understands about poverty in America.

Here’s why.

Millions of Americans are working 2+ jobs to get by.

Half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

But Trump’s plan for “economic mobility” is to take healthcare, food & housing away from struggling folks just months after giving huge tax cuts to millionaires.

Trump says his EO is about “welfare reform.” But let’s get one thing clear. WE DON’T HAVE WELFARE IN AMERICA ANYMORE. Congress eliminated it in 1996. What’s left of America’s tattered safety net is meager at best and so, so very far from enough to live on. Let’s take a look. 3/x
SNAP—aka food stamps—provides just $1.40 per person per meal. Imagine that as your food budget. Most folks run out of SNAP by the third week of the month because it’s so far from enough to feed a family on. 4/x
Housing assistance reaches just 1 in 5 eligible low-income families. Those left without help can spend 60, 70, even 80% of their income on rent and utilities each month, while they remain on decades-long waiting lists for aid. 5/x
Today fewer than 1 in 4 poor families with kids get help from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—the artist formerly known as "welfare"—because it was converted to a flat-funded block grant that’s lost fully one-third of its value since 1996. 6/x
And the small fraction of families lucky enough to receive TANF are still pretty much screwed because in no state are TANF benefits more than half the federal poverty line. For example, a Tennessee family of 3 receives a max of $185 per month—or a little over $6 a day. 7/x
At the heart of the EO Trump signed tonight is the GOP’s favorite hobby-horse: so-called “work requirements.”

Make no mistake: taking healthcare, food, and housing away from struggling workers has nothing to do with helping anyone work.… 8/x
Rather, pushing for “work requirements” is at the core of the GOP strategy to reinforce the following myths about poverty in America... 9/x
1) That “the poor” are some stagnant group of people who “just don’t want to work”

2) That anyone who wants a well-paying job can snap her fingers to make one appear

3) That having a job is all it takes to not be poor

Reinforcing these myths is core to Trump’s divide & conquer playbook. That’s why he’s so keen to smear Medicaid, SNAP, & other popular programs as “welfare”—a term with a deeply racially charged history, evoking decades of stereotypes about who is poor in this country. 11/x
By using dog-whistle terms like “welfare,” Trump’s trying to paint people who turn to Medicaid, SNAP, and other public programs as Reagan's mythical “welfare queen” -- so we don’t notice that he’s coming after the entire working and middle class. 12/x
FACT: 70% of Americans will turn to at least one means-tested program—like Medicaid or SNAP—at some point.

That’s why polling finds Americans overwhelmingly oppose cuts to these and other programs that are there for us when we fall on hard times 👇… 13/x
Trump says his EO is about eliminating "poverty traps."

If he knew anything about poverty--aside from what he's learned from Fox News--he'd know the real poverty trap is the poverty-level minimum wage. 14/x
CASE IN POINT: The federal minimum wage has stayed stuck at $7.25/hour for nearly a decade, as the GOP has stymied efforts to give workers a much-needed raise. 15/x
As a result, a minimum wage worker in 2018 is taking an effective pay cut of $2,370 this year—that's a whopping ***47 times*** what she can expect to receive under Trump’s tax law (cue Paul Ryan's deleted tweets about "crumbs"...) 16/x
If Trump were really trying to promote "self-sufficiency" -- a concept he clearly doesn't think applies to the millionaires he just gave massive tax cuts -- he'd be all over raising the minimum wage. 17/x
In fact, raising the minimum wage just to $12 would save a whopping $53 billion just in SNAP over a decade—as more low-wage workers would suddenly earn enough to (gasp!) feed their families without nutrition assistance. 18/x
So I ask:

Where, @realdonaldTrump, is raising the poverty-level minimum wage in your shiny new “Principles of Economic Mobility”?


@realDonaldTrump Worth nothing: This EO itself doesn’t carry any real weight—it directs agencies to review programs that help families make ends meet.

Its real purpose is to smear the programs Trump and his colleagues in Congress want to slash to pay for their millionaire tax cuts.
@realDonaldTrump Trump is clearly hoping to poison public opinion on SNAP ahead of the upcoming debate around the Farm Bill, which Congressional Republicans are eyeing as their best opportunity for draconian public assistance cuts this year. 21/x
@realDonaldTrump First Trump came for our healthcare.

Now he's coming for food, housing, and everything else that helps families afford the basics, brick by brick.

All to pay for his $1.5 trillion in tax giveaways to the wealthiest people in this nation.

@realDonaldTrump We saved the ACA because we stood together and said in unison #HandsOff.

We can do it again if we refuse to let him divide us.

Join the fight and share your story of what the programs Trump is trying to gut mean to you and your family at

/end (for now)

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More from @rebeccavallas

Sep 12, 2018
Later this morning, @uscensusbureau will release its annual report on poverty for 2017.

We expect a slight downtick in the U.S. poverty rate—which is without question good news.

But if Trump tries to take credit, he deserves to be laughed out of the room.

(Here’s why.)
@uscensusbureau Any good news for struggling workers is thanks to Trump’s FAILURE to impose much of his policy agenda (AKA a how-to guide for massively increasing poverty & hardship):

- dismantling food assistance
- tripling the poorest families’ rents
- stripping jobless workers of Medicaid
@uscensusbureau In fact, analysis by my colleagues @rwest817 & @kfgrobbins found that if just *three* of Trump’s draconian cuts to programs that help families make ends meet had been in place in 2015, 2.3 MILLION more Americans would have been poor.…
Read 7 tweets
Sep 5, 2018
Literally right as House & Senate began conference on the #FarmBill this morning, @USDA released a report finding 15 MILLION American households—about 1 in 6—struggled to put food on the table at some point last year.…
Yet House Republicans, led by @ConawayTX11, are STILL pushing for massive cuts to nutrition assistance that would take food away from 2 million Americans.
These are the members of Congress who are deciding whether to maintain food assistance through SNAP—or to take food out of the mouths of hungry kids & families to pay for millionaire & corporate tax cuts👇👇👇 #handsoffSNAP #FarmBill
Read 4 tweets
Aug 4, 2018
Wow. Internal documents show Trump’s State Department knowingly lied, ignored warnings from top economic advisers & manipulated data in an attempt to discredit the recent UN report on poverty in America, per @ForeignPolicy.…
The same internal documents also indicate the UN’s report on poverty in America did indeed play a role in motivating the US’s withdrawal from the Human Rights Council earlier this summer.
The same documents show that the State Dept. chose to rely on analysis from the conservative Heritage Foundation OVER THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU—the agency whose job it is to produce and analyze the federal government’s official poverty data—in its effort to whitewash poverty.
Read 7 tweets
Jul 26, 2018
Hi friends!

Today, as we mark the 28th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (#ADA28), let’s do one better.

Let’s stop relegating people with disabilities to a single day in the calendar.

1. One in five Americans are people with disabilities. NEWSFLASH: This makes pretty much every issue a disability issue—from health care to the economy to the environment, to criminal justice, and more.
2. But for too long the notion of “disability policy” has lived in a silo—artificially & counterproductively separate from the fight to end poverty & tackle inequality, to curb climate change, to achieve criminal justice reform, and even the fight for universal health care.
Read 13 tweets
Jul 16, 2018
Move over, climate change.

Trump’s White House just issued a sweeping denial of poverty in America.

1. In a report released late last week, Trump’s WH declared the War on Poverty “largely over and a success.” The report is literally page after page of gaslighting the very real hardship faced by tens of millions of Americans struggling to afford food, housing, healthcare & more.
2. The WH report brazenly denies that homelessness is a meaningful problem in the U.S.—erasing the plight of the over *half a million* Americans without shelter on any given night (which includes 58,000 families with children).
Read 22 tweets
Jun 28, 2018
Feeling all the emotions watching PA @GovernorTomWolf sign the #CleanSlateAct into law just now. Proud to have worked w/my mentor @SDietrich9 to develop the “clean slate” automatic sealing model (now being picked up by other states & Congress!) & @erincohan to get it done in PA.
My head is swirling with thoughts of all of my @CLSphila clients who will be freed from the life sentences to poverty they‘re currently serving once the #CleanSlateAct takes effect. Watching my friend Ronald speak at the signing about what it means to him brought me to tears. :)
Huge thanks to @GovernorTomWolf @RepDelozier @SenTonyWilliams @RepHarris @SenScottWagner for your leadership in making Pennsylvania the first state to adopt clean slate legislation—excited to see Michigan, South Carolina & Colorado already following in PA’s footsteps.
Read 5 tweets

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