Posts Tagged ‘Welfare Reform’

Another Bite at the Apple: The Desperate Need for Welfare Reform

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Insensitive?

In the immediate aftermath of the election, I suggested to readers that the key driver in Barack Obama’s re-election was one particular sub-group of the electorate in which Romney got creamed.  I pointed to single mothers as the key group that killed any chance of a Romney victory, and the reason I suggested was simple enough to understand: “Free stuff.”  In short, this particular segment of the populace views big government as a “sugar daddy,” and by extension, it’s chief advocate, Barack Obama was the chief beneficiary of this view.  I had known that the number of programs and benefits available to women who fit that description was quite amazing, but I had no idea the extent to which this is true. The simple truth of the matter is that unless and until conservatives devise a method by which to change this formula, they are going to lose national elections.  The problem they will face in so doing is the screed of the left about a “war on women,” but apart from weak-kneed leadership, afraid of such attacks, if something doesn’t change, the country is already lost.

The following image is a chart put together by James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute, and it demonstrates how a single mother is subsidized by the state, or how Eve, once tempted from her pedestal, became a ward of the state:

The first thing that should strike you is that a single mother of two earning only $29K is subsidized to the extent that she has the same effective lifestyle as a similar woman, unsubsidized, earning $69K, because net, the two have around $57K in income and benefits.  Effectively doubling her meager gross by virtue of the welfare state’s programs, the woman earning $29K is in pretty good shape.  People have lamented to me over the years about people who use foodstamps, but who also load their groceries into awfully nice cars, and the question had been: How can this be? Here’s part of the answer, inasmuch as relieved of the costs of food, medical care, and a tax burden, among other welfare-state benefits, what income is present is freed-up for the purchase of that nicer car.  It’s no wonder she has an iPhone 5, because under this construct, she can afford it, since taxpayers are subsidizing to some degree virtually everything else.

Leftists and those of the moderate middle wonder why we conservatives claim that such programs are a disincentive to work, but the facts make it clear.  What is the point in bettering oneself if it actually can be a detriment to income, as the chart above makes perfectly clear.  At certain thresholds, by earning the next marginal amount, benefits available drop off to the extent that it’s punitive to earn more.  This explains well why in certain lines of work, we have the phenomenon of women roughly matching the description, who quit or get themselves fired once they’ve been there a certain period of time, and it’s because they need to keep earning, but they also need to prevent themselves from crossing these thresholds, or “welfare cliffs.”

The challenge to conservatives is to reverse this without being accused of waging a “war on women.”  The first thing we need to admit is that such a situation is a travesty, both to the women trapped by this process, and to those who are working outside the blanket of this lavish welfare state.  It should never be the case that our people are faced with the choice of placing reason in adversity to morality.  Let me try to explain it this way: If you’re that woman earning $29K, you’d be nuts to earn enough money to push you over the cliff.  It would diminish and damage your lifestyle, and the lives of your children.  At the same time, you would [hopefully] know that to continue to languish on these programs is wrong, but when you look around, you notice everybody around you is doing it, so how wrong can it really be?

This dichotomy is the difficulty we face.  We have provided this system, and it is entirely socialistic.  Viewed from a big-picture perspective, it’s constructed precisely to create a very socialistic outcome: The net wages and benefits are flat from wage or salary levels of $29K to nearly $70K. The woman who earns $29K is the economic equal of the woman who grosses $40K more.  This is an astonishing revelation to many people, who had no idea how thoroughly perverse with socialism this system had really become.  Is there any wonder that welfare-to-work initiatives have failed in recent years, to the largest extent?  Is there any wonder that job training programs seem to have been largely fruitless?

It’s easy enough to identify the problem once you have the facts before you, but then the question becomes: Whatever shall we do about it?  If Congress simply slashes these benefits, they fear they won’t be re-elected, but if they don’t do something soon, they won’t be re-elected anyway because this will have become the daily reality for far too many people to ever reverse it.  The problem is that if we don’t reverse it, it’s going to bankrupt us, and that day is coming all too soon. All of this subsidization is being accomplished with borrowed money, and it simply is not sustainable.  It’s always difficult to convince people that their best long-run interests are better served by giving up a little in the shorter run, and the evidence is quite obvious when one examines how few people ever put money away for retirement or savings in any form. Part of the reason they’re unable is because the money they’re earning today is being taxed to subsidize others, so that the total effect of this problem is much worse and much more widespread than the superficial conclusions one might draw.

We need a real, thorough examination of our welfare state, but under the current administration, we’ll be lucky if we can merely restrict its growth.  This administration knows where its bread is buttered, and it’s not going to yield any ground on this without a brutal fight.  The truth may be that this has already doomed us to a financial and monetary collapse of epic proportions.   When that happens, it won’t matter any longer because this will come to a screeching halt, and both the single mothers in this scenario will pay a terrible price along with every other American.  The left has worked very hard to dissociate any stigma previously attached to such subsidies, so we’re going to need to make more than a financial argument, because this is a problem in largest measure of desperate moral concern.  We need adults in the room, but right now, Congress is acting as the elves in Obama’s portrayal of Santa Claus, and the states have become the sleigh, Rudolph, and his eight four-legged friends. It must stop, but in truth, one way or the other, it will stop.  The question is whether it stops in a sudden crash, or instead because we decide wisely to apply the brakes. The choice is still yours.

For now.

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Barack Obama’s Continuing Contempt for the Law

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Betraying America By Pen-Stroke

In our constitutional system, the Congress writes the laws, and the Chief Executive carries them into execution.  The President is permitted to write rules that will lay out the method in which the law is enforced, but his power to write executive orders is not intended to permit him to bypass or ignore laws, never mind write his own.  This week, the Obama administration issued a new set of rules including the ability to issue waivers for work requirements to states overseeing the federal TANF program (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.)  This provision of the 1996 “Welfare Reform,” passed by a Gingrich-led Republican Congress, and signed into law by Bill Clinton, requires recipients to actively seek employment, and further their education in order to receive the funds.  Nowhere in the law is there a provision permitting the President to create waivers to these requirements, and yet, this is precisely what our fearless dictator has done.  Barack Obama’s lawlessness is speeding the final collapse of this nation, and he’s happily pursuing this end. It’s long past the time in which we should recognize that this had been his goal all along. The question politicians pretend not to have heard is “What shall we do about it?”

What may be understood from all of this are two basic things.  First, welfare reform is being destroyed by the stroke of a pen in the executive mansion. This is not the President’s rightful role in any case.  Obama has turned the office of the President into the office of Dear Leader, or Fuhrer, and there is no escaping the meaning of his grasping of more power.  Second, this President’s intentions must be clear to any who view it with clarity.  He does not intend anything good for our country, and his willingness to seize power in this fashion merely makes plain the fact that he is out of control, and ignoring all of the boundaries established by the US Constitution.  He is intentionally leading us into a disaster, in part to buy votes, but also in part because he wants the disaster.  Meanwhile, our Congress is writing letters to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to complain.

We have a branch of government that is in open insurrection against the Constitution, and our Congress is writing letters in response.  I know that many of you will argue that the Republican majority is only “one-half of one-third” of the government, but how many continuing resolutions to fund this monstrosity will they pass to fund all of this?  It’s the only thing they can do, apart from an impeachment vote, that will mean nothing when the Senate fails to act.  The only thing Congress can do is to deny funding.  There are some who argue the dictator will find a way around that, too, but if he does, that will be open insurrection against the Constitution, not on some small policy matter, but on the very foundations of our system of government. One would think people might notice.

This is the evidence of how bad it has become in the government.  We now have a President who rules outside the confines of the Constitution with complete impunity.  I can understand why so many conservatives would rush to support Mitt Romney, in desperation to put an end to this lawless administration.  I do understand it, and I tell you that I hold no ill will to those who choose this course.  The problem is that I don’t know if they will get their votes’ worth out of the Romney administration.  You may ask why, and it’s important to understand what’s really going on here, and what are the stakes.  After all, the better question may be simply: “What can we do about it?”

In acting out of all bounds of his constitutional limits, President Obama isn’t merely violating his oath by negligence or sloth, but is instead willfully committing treason against the United States.  His actions are the pinnacle of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  There exists no shortage of witnesses against him, and his entire administration, all who have sworn oaths, and all who carry out this plot against the constitution are likewise clearly acting in support of treason.  I do not use that word lightly, precisely as one must not use the word “racism” lightly.  Words of this sort lose all meaning when overused.   More, I mean “treason” in its precise legal meaning. Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution:

“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

Barack Obama’s lawless conduct well outside the constitutional limitations of his office are acts of war against the United States.  Here’s the problem, and I want you to consider it:  IF you succeed in flipping the Senate, and IF you succeed in putting Mush Romney in the White House, who is going to prosecute the case against Barack Obama?  Nobody.  Nobody is going to use the law to prosecute the criminal usurpations of this President, but that is precisely what ought to happen.  The entire cabal of leftists who have been ravaging this country for the past four years(at least) is going to walk away, and worse, agitate against undoing their treason.  What should happen (but won’t,) is that every officer of the Obama administration should be brought up on charges of Treason, abetting Treason, and levying and waging war against the United States Constitution.  They should be held at Guantanamo Bay pending trial.

None of that will happen. Why?  If the Republicans take over the executive branch, as well as the entire Congress, it is likely that business-as-usual will resume.  Those who voted for them will shrug, and say “well, at least that nightmare is over.”  What I’m warning you now is that even were this to happen, the nightmare will not end.  It will not end until we begin to punish politicians who act to subvert our constitution, not merely by sending them home, but by incarcerating, trying and sentencing them accordingly.  When these politicians take an oath to uphold our Constitution, what does that oath mean if when they violate it, they are permitted to walk away?

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a good reason you are not murderers, rapists, and thieves.  You expect that even if you were inclined to commit such trespasses against your neighbors, justice would pursue you and you would be held to pay the price for your crimes.  This is what has been missing from our nation for too many years.  We do not punish politicians who exceed their power.  Sure, we throw some in jail for crooked dealings, but what we  haven’t done is to jail them when they act out of malice toward our constitutional system.  If you want to re-write the ending of this drama, that must change.  We cannot permit our constitution to be attacked in this manner without answer.  Justice demands it.  There are those who will argue that we must not criminalize policy, but this isn’t about the specific policies so much as adherence to the supreme law of the land, or the conspiracy to subvert it.  It has been observed that our constitution is not a suicide pact, but we have too many politicians too thoroughly inclined to let every treason pass unanswered in the name of politics. One can only wonder at their motives.