In ‘Senior Moment,’ Biden Attacks Trump Instead of Bloomberg

Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

“First of all, what we’re doing is immoral. I know that’s not a phrase they often use in politics, but it’s immoral. Look what he’s doing right — look what this president’s doing right now. Look what people have done before. They’re going to fingerprint food stamp recipients.” — Former vice president Joe Biden, Feb. 20, 2020

Say it ain’t so, Joe! 

Biden calls Trump ‘immoral’ – when he really meant to attack his fellow Democrat 

Feb. 27, 2020

The Washington Post – These remarks puzzled us, as we were unaware of any Trump administration proposal to fingerprint food-stamp recipients.

Biden raised the issue in the context of denouncing the president’s budget for “cutting a billion dollars out of the — all the social safety net, this outfit, whether it’s Medicare, Medicaid, whether — across the board.”

Trump’s budget would attempt to squeeze $920 billion from Medicaid, though the plan faces fierce opposition from Democrats.

He also is seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in savings from Medicare, but as we have documented before, these ideas are mostly borrowed from Barack Obama proposals.

“He always gets the name wrong. How many times has he missed it?’He’s in Iowa, he says ‘great to be in the great state of Ohio.’  They say, ‘Joe, you’re in Iowa!’  You can’t do that.” – Donald Trump, Jan 30, 2020

So for the purposes of this fact check, we will focus on Biden’s claim about fingerprinting.

The Facts

As president, Trump has regularly crowed that the number of food-stamp recipients has declined during his presidency. About 6 million people have stopped receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) since February 2017, according to the latest data.

Still, SNAP participation had fallen before Trump’s election. SNAP participation generally tracks with the official poverty rate, which has been falling since 2010.

And, generally speaking, lower unemployment means people are less reliant on SNAP benefits. But Trump has also sought to tighten eligibility rules, which could remove 700,000 people from food stamps over the next five years.

But Trump’s food-stamp proposals do not include fingerprinting. So what could Biden have been talking about during his interview with Chavis?

It turns out that former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, not Trump, was a strong supporter of fingerprinting food stamp recipients.

It was an idea implemented in 1996 under then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, but Bloomberg fought hard to keep the fingerprinting program in place even after states such as California and Texas — and the rest of New York state — abandoned the practice.

“City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says the requirement deters some 30,000 low-income residents from accessing the program, depriving them of $54 million in federal benefits,” reported Governing magazine in 2011 … Read more.