On Monday, Donald Trump released the second budget proposal of his presidency. There’s lots in it — more money for defense, veterans and border security and some tax changes too. But what really jumps out is the proposal to cut funding for federal assistance programs including a 20 percent cut to Section 8 housing, a 22 percent cut to Medicaid and a brutal 27 percent cut to SNAP (the benefit formerly known as food stamps). Bobby Kogan, who on Twitter identifies himself as “chief number cruncher for the Senate budget committee”, points out that SNAP benefits are already small at just $1.40 per meal, and that “cutting the program by a quarter is extremely cruel.”
The proposed cuts evinced outrage from advocates for the poor, who have also noted that the social safety net has big holes and vulnerable people have been falling through them for years.
In the fall of 2016, Brooke reported a series we called “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths.” Over five episodes she explored the central myths of poverty as we see them: that the poor deserve to be poor, that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and (the one we are re-airing now), that the safety net can catch you.
With the help of Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, we consider how anti-poverty programs can actually keep people poor and offer little hope for a way out.
Also, Brooke meets Margaret Smith, a Columbus woman made homeless after a violent crime derailed the life she’d carefully built with her six children. And we visit an Athens County food pantry that provides not just meals to the community, but also school supplies, clothing, furniture, job training, home repairs, disaster relief… even burial plots.