By Natasha Bach
April 11, 2018

President Trump is adding requirements for the poorest Americans to get access to government assistance.

Trump signed the Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility executive order on Tuesday, directing federal agencies to expand work requirements for those who receive benefits from government assistance programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, and public housing.

The order calls on a variety of departments, including Agriculture, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development to review existing waivers and mandates to work requirements and submit recommended policy changes within 90 days.

“The federal government should do everything within its authority to empower individuals by providing opportunities for work, including by investing in federal programs that are effective at moving people into the workforce and out of poverty,” the order read, according to CNN.

Policy advisor Andrew Bremberg explained that the order seeks to promote “common-sense reforms” that “restore American prosperity,” by helping Americans move “from welfare to work.”

Trump has previously accused beneficiaries of such government assistance programs of abusing them, and the administration has already taken several steps to require low-income Americans to work for benefits. For the first time, some Americans on Medicaid will be required to work and the Department of Housing and Urban Development is reportedly exploring a similar approach for those who live in subsidized housing.

Meanwhile, proponents of existing welfare programs suggest that stricter requirements would have disproportionate repercussions for the most vulnerable. They suggest that the proposed changes make a number of inaccurate assumptions about recipients, including that they don’t want to work and that having a job will instantly solve their financial issues.

Along with work requirements, the agencies are instructed to follow nine “Principles of Economic Mobility” to guide their proposed changes, including giving states more flexibility, encouraging private sector involvement, and promoting marriage as a means to escape poverty.

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