WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday his administration will start to consider reforming the welfare system in the United States, saying that some people are “taking advantage of the system.”
The comment comes as the Trump administration struggles to get any sweeping legislation through Congress, despite Republicans controlling both the House and Senate. Trump failed to pass health care reform earlier this year and is currently working — without much success so far — to pass tax reform.
“People are taking advantage of the system and then other people aren’t receiving what they really need to live and we think it is very unfair to them,” said Trump, flanked by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a Cabinet meeting. “Because some people are really taking advantage of our system from that standpoint.”
“We are going to be looking very, very strongly, therefore, at welfare reform,” Trump added.
Trump didn’t say when this roll out would happen but said he would announce his plan “shortly.”
Welfare reform was not something Trump emphasized on the campaign trail, but his first budget proposal — unveiled earlier this year — proposed sweeping cuts to food stamps and welfare programs by restricting those who are eligible for such programs. That budget has not been passed, but Congress is currently considering a budget deal that would make way for tax reform.
In one of his first speeches as president, Trump pledged to get people off welfare and back to work.
“We want to get our people off of welfare and back to work,” he said. “So important. It’s out of control. It’s out of control.”
That comment was slammed at the time by welfare advocates.
Celena McDonnell, a nursing assistant from Endicott, New York, had urged Trump to “stop implying that Americans on welfare aren’t working.”
“A statement like Trump’s is a generalization, a stereotype,” she wrote in The Washington Post. “Most of us are employed; however, many on welfare are struggling to earn a living wage. And we need some extra help.”
President Bill Clinton signed a bipartisan welfare reform bill in 1996, leading to sweeping changes to the welfare system, including the government’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which provides cash assistance to low-income families.