Vice President for Family Income Support Policy
President Trump and some congressional Republicans are embracing proposals to let states impose harmful work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries, and they’ve also touted as a work requirement a harsh three-month time limit on SNAP (food stamp) benefits for childless working-age adults who aren’t working at least half time, claiming it will push very poor recipients into jobs. These policymakers say they’re committed to evidence-based policymaking, but they ignore the evidence that work requirements won’t solve the labor market challenges that unemployed individuals face.
Republican interest in work requirements comes as Trump is advancing other policies that — despite his promise to help more people find and keep jobs — will move in the other direction. His budget, for instance, would cut programs that help jobless individuals get the training they need or find a job, as we’ve explained.
Work requirements don’t build the skills that individuals need to succeed in today’s labor market. They don’t create jobs where they don’t exist. They don’t convince employers to hire people with limited skills or criminal backgrounds. They don’t address the need for supportive services like child care and transportation. They don’t address employment barriers like mental or physical health problems. And, critically, they don’t reflect the fact that many Medicaid and SNAP recipients already work, but don’t earn enough to meet their basic needs.
A comprehensive review of work requirement experiments and policies for cash assistance recipients shows: