retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Content Guy’s Note: Stories in this section are, in my estimation, important and relevant to business. However, they are relegated to this slot because some MNB readers have made clear that they prefer a politics-free MNB; I can't do that because sometimes the news calls out for coverage and commentary, but at least I can make it easy for folks to skip it if they so desire.

• The New York Times this morning reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving "to cut spending on food stamps … proposing changes that would slice $4.5 billion from the program over five years, trimming monthly benefits by as much as $75 for one in five struggling families on nutrition assistance."

According to the story, "The latest plan would cut benefits for 19 percent of households on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, while increasing benefits for 16 percent. Almost 8,000 households would lose benefits entirely. Those cuts would be concentrated in cold northern states that would be most affected by a change in the way heating costs are calculated.

"The number of families losing benefits is a tiny percentage of the nearly 40 million people who receive benefits, and even $4.5 billion over five years is a trim for a program that cost $68 billion in 2018 alone."

This move, the Times writes, "is the third time the Trump administration has moved to cut food stamps."

The Times goes on: "The food stamp program kept over three million people out of poverty in 2018.

"The program has become a perennial target for congressional Republicans, eager to cut some government spending and leery of the growth of a program that they see as fostering dependence on the government. In Congress, past efforts to make cuts to the program have been beaten back by a coalition of urban liberal lawmakers, eager to protect constituent benefits, and rural-state senators, protective of a program that reliably buys crops grown by their farmers.

"But the Trump administration, unable to win changes in Congress, is cutting through executive action."
KC's View: