THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO HELP WORKING FAMILIES July 14, 1999
Today President Clinton will take a series of executive actions to help ensure working families access to food stamps. In a speech to the Democratic Leadership Council, the President will announce three actions to promote work over welfare: (1) allowing states to make it easier for working families to own a car and still be eligible for food stamps; (2) simplifying food stamp reporting rules to reduce bureaucracy and encourage work; and (3) launching a nationwide public education campaign and a toll-free hotline to help working families know whether they are eligible for food stamps.
For the past 6 1/2 years, the President has carried out a new approach to help lift people out of poverty, by forging a new social contract that rewards work, family, and responsibility. Along with the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid coverage, and child care, food stamps are an important support for working families. Families with earnings up to 130 percent of poverty ($8.50 an hour for a family of three) can be eligible for food stamps to supplement their income and help buy food for their families, but only two of five working families eligible for food stamps actually apply for and receive them. Today the President will take three new executive actions to help working families:
Issue Guidance Making it Easier for Families to Own a Reliable Car and Receive Food Stamps: If we want people to leave welfare and go to work, we need to make sure they can get to work. Because lack of reliable transportation is a major barrier to families finding and keeping a job, the welfare reform law of 1996 allowed states to make it easier for families to own a car and still be eligible for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. But until now, states have been able to use that flexibility only to help those receiving cash welfare benefits, while working families receiving in-kind benefits through TANF, such as child care, continue to lose eligibility for food stamps if the value of their car exceeds the food stamp program asset limit of $4,650. This policy forced many working families to choose between nutritional assistance or a reliable car. Today, the Administration will release new policy guidance to allow states to use their more generous TANF asset test, rather than the Food Stamp Program asset limit, in determining food stamp eligibility for all families eligible for TANF. This will enable working families eligible for in-kind TANF benefits (e.g., child care, job retention services, on-the-job training) to have a reliable car and still get food stamps. More and more states are using TANF funds to provide non-cash supports for working families to help people who have left welfare stay off the rolls and help families from going on welfare in the first place. The President encouraged states to provide non-cash supports in the final TANF regulation he announced on April 10. Unveil New Rules Making it Easier for States to Serve Working Families: Current food stamp procedure requires administering agencies to adhere to complex rules on reporting and projecting income, and penalizes states for small errors in projected earnings. But low-income working families often have fluctuating incomes, because their hours of work per week vary or they change jobs frequently. The old rules discourage recipients from going to work, and impose on agencies an enormous paperwork burden. Now, the Administration will allow states new options to simplify these rules, making it easier for working families to report income and easier for the food stamp program to serve working families. For example, families will now be able to report earnings every quarter instead of every month. Announce Public Education Campaign and Hotline, and New USDA Food Stamp Toolkit: The President will announce that Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman will lead a nationwide food stamp public education campaign to educate working families about food stamps through new informational materials and an enhanced toll-free information line. The Administration will also release a new USDA Food Stamp Toolkit that will provide state, local, and community leaders information about best practices to assist working families and will clearly explain the food stamp law's access requirements. ###