The “Blue Apronization” Of Food Stamps Is NOT “Possibly A Good Idea If It Leads To Better Nutrition”
We discussed this proposal by the White House at some length yesterday. But a lot of media outlets did not really pick up on the story until later. And still later, some of our friends started wondering in Tweets and comments whether Trump’s proposal might not be such a bad thing if it encourages healthier eating.
So we want to reiterate just a couple of things:
• This proposal adds a new layer of bureaucracy that creates a new degree of difficulty for food stamp recipients. Supermarket mark-ups are notoriously small. Even if the government’s getting a “good deal” buying goods wholesale, we doubt the coordination of delivery of boxes to more than 40-million people (or requiring them to figure out a way to come pick up boxes) could really be more cost-efficient than loading money electronically onto a card.
So why then would Trump (and his Budget Director Mick Mulvaney: he of the “Blue Apron” analogy) want to pursue this? Because there’s a dirty little secret involved: if it does end up saving the government money, it’ll be because a lot of people can’t or won’t or don’t pick up their boxes, and will end up just making do with 1/2 the cash on their card than they’re getting now.
Trump’s people know this.
Let’s say only 1 out of every 100 families don’t get their boxes (for whatever reason). Most people who receive food assistance are in families, averaging 4–5 people. Bingo! The government’s just cut that part of its food stamp program by 5%, without actually cutting anything. If it ends up being 5 out of every 100 families, it really helps fulfill Trump’s stated goal of cutting the food stamp program by about 25%.
• The people proposing this are hypocrites. And they need to be called out for their hypocrisy. They’re the same people who damned Obama for suggesting we use more energy-efficient light bulbs and who condemned the “nanny state” for denying cookies to kids in school, and large cups of sugary soft drinks to residents of New York City.
Also Trump keeps bragging about how much he’s deregulating everything. But we guess only when it comes to easing rules for corporations and his rich friends in real estate. Because with this, he’s adding regulations.