The president called for enforcing work requirements that are already in the law and reviewing all waivers and exemptions to such mandates.
The order, signed in private, promotes "common-sense reforms" that policy adviser Andrew Bremberg said would reduce dependence on government programs.
The executive order garnered praise from conservatives, and the Trump administration drew attention to the work requirements for childless adults implemented in Kansas, which they claim led to a 75 percent drop in welfare caseloads.
Instead of mandating employment, the president could do other things to help Americans gain economic independence, Vallas said.
The executive order is the strongest statement Trump has made about the country's social safety net program since his February budget proposal to slash billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies. "The administration is reflecting a larger narrative that many low-income individuals avoid work - but there's just not a lot of data to support that position". However, the move has drawn criticism from liberal activists.
In January, officials announced that states would be able to impose work requirements for Medicaid. "But there shouldn't be barriers for those who are in need when they can't work", said Derrick Johnson, president and chief executive of the NAACP.
"I know people that work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn't work at all".
Wilson said low-wage workers are working more hours than they did almost 40 years ago. "And the person who is not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that's working his and her ass off", Trump said in November. "You can't be on food stamps and be out of poverty by definition if you have no other earned income".
"The federal government should do everything within its authority to empower individuals by providing opportunities for work, including by investing in federal programs that are effective at moving people into the workforce and out of poverty", the order read, according to CNN. "And third, that having a job is all it takes to not be poor".
The Agriculture Department announced in February that it's looking for ways to promote work and self-sufficiency among food stamp recipients.
"Unfortunately, numerous programs created to help families have instead delayed economic independence, perpetuated poverty, and weakened family bonds", the executive order said.
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