President Trump quietly signed a long-anticipated executive order on Tuesday intended to force low-income recipients of food assistance, Medicaid and low-income housing subsidies to join the work force or face the loss of their benefits.
The order, in the works since last year, has an ambitious title — “Reducing Poverty in America” — and is directed at “any program that provides means-tested assistance or other assistance that provides benefits to people, households or families that have low incomes,” according to the order’s text.
But its programmatic goals are considerably more modest, officials said. Many of the initiatives outlined have already been set into motion by the affected agencies, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services, which has begun issuing waivers to Republican governors who want to impose stricter work requirements on Medicaid recipients as a way to reduce costs.
And advocates for poor people questioned whether the order could achieve even modest goals, saying most able-bodied adults who receive noncash federal aid either already work or face significant impediments to doing so.
The order gave all cabinet departments 90 days to produce plans that impose work requirements on able-bodied aid recipients and block ineligible immigrants from receiving aid, while drafting “a list of recommended regulatory and policy changes” to push recipients off the rolls and into jobs.
“President Trump has directed his administration to study policies that are failing Americans,” said Andrew Bremberg, the president’s domestic policy chief, who briefed reporters on the order’s contents in a telephone call late Tuesday. Journalists…