Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) received backlash after she took to Twitter Thursday to talk about how a younger version of herself could have “starved” under the Trump administration’s new food stamps rule.
The new rule for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, would limit access to food assistance benefits–a move federal officials estimated could potentially cut as many as 688,000 Americans from the program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that starting in April 2020, states would be subject to narrower criteria to waive a requirement that able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) work at least 20 hours a week to retain their benefits. The revised conditions for state-requested waivers apply to areas with an unemployment rate exceeding 10 percent or a lack of sufficient jobs.
The new rule doesn’t apply to children and their parents, those older than 50 (including the elderly), people with a disability, or pregnant women.
The USDA said the changes aim to move more able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 who currently receive SNAP benefits “towards self-sufficiency and into employment.”
Current SNAP regulations limit adults to three months of benefits over a three-year span unless they meet the required 20 hours of work per week requirement. Many states waive that requirement in areas with high unemployment.
The 30-year-old Congresswoman responded to the announcement on Twitter, claiming her family could have starved had the Trump administration’s tightened requirements for food stamp recipients been implemented when her father died in 2008.
“My family relied on food stamps (EBT) when my dad died at 48. I was a student. If this happened then, we might’ve just starved. Now, many people will,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “It’s shameful how the GOP works overtime to create freebies for the rich while dissolving lifelines of those who need it most.”
My family relied on food stamps (EBT) when my dad died at 48.
I was a student. If this happened then, we might’ve just starved.
Now, many people will.
It’s shameful how the GOP works overtime to create freebies for the rich while dissolving lifelines of those who need it most. https://t.co/WOrYvhfPj4
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 5, 2019
Twitter users quickly rebuked Ocasio-Cortez’s claim, pointing out that the new rule explicitly states that it does not apply to people with dependents. At the time of her father’s untimely death, Ocasio-Cortez was a 19-year-old college sophomore, and she likely would have been claimed as a dependent by her mother.
“The rule applies to able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have dependents,” The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank replied to her Twitter post. “The rule wouldn’t apply to parents with minor children, the elderly, or disabled people.”
The rule applies to able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have dependents.
The rule wouldn’t apply to parents with minor children, the elderly, or disabled people.
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) December 6, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the conservative think tank’s message, saying that the new SNAP rule would cause people like “a single mother of a 19-year-old” to be denied food, only to have more users slamming her for spreading misleading information, considering the cases she brought up would not be affected by the new rule.
“None of the cases you mentioned are affected, but you knew that. You just want to spread lies,” a user wrote.
“Why would the single mother of a 19-year-old be denied food stamps?” another user wrote. “She would retain the benefits if the child is dependent on her. If the child is not dependent on her, she should get a job!”