‘A child can’t learn when they’re hungry:’ Pa’s Wolf, other guvs protest Trump’s food stamps cuts | Thursday Morning Coffee

August 29, 2019 7:07 am

Governor Wolf, joined by Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, announces a $317 million deposit into PA’s Rainy Day Fund at the Harrisburg Capitol on July 9.

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, along with a coalition of governors, on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue opposing the agency’s plan to cut food assistance.

President Donald Trump’s USDA has essentially proposed eliminating Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

An estimated 3 million people nationwide could lose benefits, with 500,000 schoolchildren losing free breakfast and lunch at school. And as many as 200,000 adults and children in Pennsylvania could be affected by this change, according to state Department of Human Services data.

“We can all agree that no one should be forced to go hungry in the U.S, especially children. Yet, the Department’s analysis acknowledges that its proposal may worsen hunger at a time when nearly 16 percent of households with children are experiencing food insecurity,” the letter reads, in part. “We should be doing more to help these families, not less. Adding insult to injury, this proposed rule would eliminate automatic enrollment for kids in SNAP families in the free and reduced price lunch and breakfast programs. Everyone knows that a child can’t learn when they’re hungry, but these changes would make that a reality for thousands of kids in our states and across the country.”

President Donald Trump (Capital-Star file)

The governors also signing on are from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin.

“If we want to lift people out of poverty and grow our economy, we must work together to ensure they have the support they need, not make deep cuts that make it harder for them to provide for their families and save for the future,” Michigan’s Whitmer said, according to our sister publication, the Michigan Advance.

“We’re joining together to fight back against this attack on low-income Americans to protect access to healthy food for hundreds of thousands of low-income families, children, people with disabilities, the elderly, farmers and food producers. It’s time for the President and Secretary Perdue to do the right thing and rescind this proposal on behalf of hardworking families everywhere,” she said.

As the Capital-Star’s Sarah Anne Hughes reported on Aug. 25, broad-based categorical eligibility makes certain families automatically eligible for food stamps if they use a non-cash service, such as childcare, funded by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Experts say this rule change would affect working families on a bubble — making more money than they used to, but still not enough to make up for the loss of SNAP.

During a July press call, state Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller pushed back on the idea that the eligibility standards are a loophole, as the Trump administration has claimed.

“It is a commonsense mechanism through which the federal government has allowed states flexibility to determine appropriate income threshold,” Miller said on that call. “This flexibility is important because the cost of living can be so significantly different from one state to another.”

Perdue has countered that the policy has been used to “bypass important eligibility guidelines” and amounts to “abuse of a critical safety net system.”

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
The state Department of Corrections has completed its review of recent homicides allegedly committed by parolees. The review “identified no evidence of misconduct or policy or rule violations,” but DOC is making some recommendations for change, Elizabeth Hardison reports.

Stephen Caruso caught up with Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and others, as they rallied on behalf of preserving the Affordable Care Act, which is now under both legislative and legal siege.

On our Commentary Pagewe speculate on the political motivations for President Donald Trump’s sudden rush to finish the border wall before next November. The Keystone Research Center’s Stephen Herzenberg recommends that CEOs try a bit of woke capitalism. And a University of Michigan business prof argues that companies don’t need the blessing of The Business Roundtable to be better corporate citizens. 

Former President Barack Obama (Photo via Flickr Commons)

Pennsylvania voters who cast ballots for both former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump could hold the keys in 2020, the Inquirer reports.
The Post-Gazette explains how the eight-year dispute between Highmark and UPMC was settled within weeks.
Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse says he’s open to allowing city students attend non-city schools, in the wake of new city-only voucher legislation, PennLive reports.
Allentown’s parking authority has opened lots on Seventh Street in the city to development, the Morning Call reports.
The Tribune-Review explains why freight trains are an impediment to increasing Amtrak service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

New Jersey’s new red flag law takes effect this weekendWHYY-FM reports.
A new study concludes that Pennsylvanians are working harder than residents of neighboring states to keep their gas tanks filled, WITF-FM reports. explains how a new Trump administration rule easing Medicaid interpreter rules could adversely impact healthcare for immigrants.
Republicans — including U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., are getting jumpy about the economy, Politico reports.
Democrats are using Trump’s tariffs against House Republicans in new ads, Roll Call reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 starts the day in lovely Erie, Pa., with a 10 a.m. newser at Grandview Elementary School, where he’ll talk charter school reform. Then, Wolf takes his ‘Lead-Free Pa‘ program to Pittsburgh, with a 2 p.m. stop at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a straight banger to get your Thursday morning rolling. It’s ‘Boasty,’ by Wiley and Stefflon Don, with an appearance by one Idris Elba. Play this loud. Dance around the office.

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Hail and farewell to the great Cam Ward, who signed a one-day contract with Carolina so that he could retire as a Hurricane on Wednesday. Ward, 35, played 14 years in the NHL, and was in goal for the ‘Canes 2006 Stanley Cup squad. He played in Chicago last season. As ESPN reports, “Ward retire[d] with [Carolina’s] franchise records for career regular-season games played (668), wins (318), winning percentage (.557), shutouts (27) and saves (17,261).” So long. Thanks for everything, Cam.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.