You know it’s an election year because Republicans who are likely future Presidential candidates in two years are talking about issues which affect the working class, the poor, and minorities. In between elections we don’t hear much; the rhetoric is about government spending, war, and attacking every member of the opposing party. Paul Ryan has a plan to care for those who live in poverty; his plan will do more harm than good to the people who need help the most.
In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed into law the ‘Temporary Assistance for Needy Families’ act. It created blocks of money for states. With these funds states would care for needy families. The focus was meant to provide child care for working parents who otherwise could not afford it, and therefore were unable to work. The states were given ‘carte blanche’ as to how the money was spent, as long as it served the intentions of TANF. Big mistake.
Almost immediately the states began to use the money for other budgetary problems. The number of ‘eligible’ recipients for TANF aid was reduced, and the people it was meant to help received less and less through time.
On March 3rd of this year Representative, and former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, released a report composed by him. It was titled “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later.” His basic conclusion was a two-fold problem.
The first cause, according to Ryan, is family structure. He claims that single parent families create the next generation of children who will grow up with little or no incentive to secure better lives for themselves; ambition is non-existent.
His second explanation for the existence of poverty was lack of desire by individuals to find a job, or ‘laziness.’
To solve these two problems and end poverty, Ryan believes that eliminating all government assistance programs would force these people to look for work and support themselves.
What did Ryan come up with to change the present system? Another form of TANF.
Republicans are good at giving misleading names to programs which indicate that they are positive changes, when in fact they are just the opposite. For example the ‘Patriot Act’ sounds as though it’s good thing to promote, when in reality is takes away many of the freedoms we had in the 225 previous years. ‘Citizens United’ is a good slogan, but what it actually does is allow corporations to buy elections by contributing unlimited funds. It devalues each individual citizen’s vote.
Paul Ryan’s plan is just another misnomer, he calls it ‘Expanding Opportunity in America.’
Here’s how it works. He would eliminate 11 existing federal programs including welfare, food stamps, and others with similar intentions. The money would be given to the states in a single monetary package. Before the states could receive the funds, they would have to submit a plan to the federal government. The plan would have to contain how the monies would be distributed, not only to the state’s welfare department, but also to charities and the like. Recipients must work if they are able, or they would not receive aid.
The funds are not to be used for any other unrelated projects. To ensure oversight, a third party would track the money. (Sound familiar?)
What it sounds like is another rehashed Republican idea. TANF came from Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America.’
Just think about it. If Romney and Ryan would have been elected in 2012, this man would have been a heartbeat away from leading our country; leading it into the dark ages.
By James Turnage
Al Jazeera America