Trump’s Budget Uses the Same Logic as These Debunked Food Stamp Memes

May 25th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

Myths about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, have long infected online conversations and caused people to believe that recipients are lazy, drug addicted, and disinterested in finding jobs.

Unfortunately, these stereotypes aren't limited to online conversations — they can be clearly seen in our publicly policy too.

First Food Stamp Meme

"If you're on food stamps and you're able-bodied, then we need you to go to work," Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, said on Monday during a White House press briefing.

Like these punitive memes, Mulvaney’s comment implies that low-income earners only need food stamps because they are either not working or not working hard enough.

But that's not really the case.

According to 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 55 percent of SNAP households with children have at least one person with earnings. The same document noted that two-third of SNAP recipients were children, elderly, or disabled.

There are currently about 45 million SNAP recipients in the United States.

Get A Job Food Stamp Meme

According to SNAP to Health, a health policy organization that focuses on ways to improve the program, many Americans falsely believe that benefits go to people who could be working. The reality is much different. "More than half of SNAP recipients are children or the elderly. For the remaining working-age individuals, many of them are currently employed. At least forty percent of all SNAP beneficiaries live in a household with earnings," according to SNAP to Health.

Meme Food Stamps

The statement from Mulvaney came as he presented the Trump administration’s inaugural budget, which has sparked controversy for potentially slashing over a trillion dollars from Medicaid and other programs meant for the poorest in the nation while providing trillions in tax cuts for the wealthiest.

The proposed budget would cut $274 billion from various welfare programs over the next decade, $191 billion of which would come from SNAP. According to Vox's analysis, these cuts would come through additional work requirements (there are already some in place) and a reduction in benefits.

Ironically, though there aren't many food stamps recipients who refuse to work, beneficiaries of the program could still be hurt by cuts inspired by the logic that recipients are lazy.

In this meme-ified world, social media has provided new arenas for this mythology to spread, despite experts like Craig Gundersen assertion that most SNAP recipients that are eligible to work do exactly that.

There has already been fierce opposition to the White House proposal from Democrats and Independents. On MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called the budget “grotesquely immoral” for effectively transferring benefits to wealthiest people in the country at the expense of safety net programs and said the budget “shouldn’t see the light of day.”

The White House has adopted a different perspective.

"We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of people on those [welfare] programs. We're going to measure compassion by how many people we can get off those programs," Mulvaney said, in the same briefing.

Watch ATTN:'s video about fighting food stamp shame below.