You Had One Job…

In 1996 The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was passed, giving states control of welfare.

The site history.com reports:

Building on policies that had been passed by Reagan, and a foundational principle of “personal responsibility,” TANF added work requirements for aid, shrinking the number of adults who could qualify for benefits. This legislation also created caps for how long and how much aid a person could receive, and well as instituting harsher punishments for recipients who did not comply with the requirements.

Under President Obama, those requirements were loosened because of the recession. The Republican Congress under President Trump had discussed putting work requirements back, but somehow those requirements didn’t make it into the farm bill.

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday about the recently passed farm bill. The article notes that there was bi-partisan support for the farm bill.

The editorial states:

How bad is the bill? Even Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, himself a farmer, was outraged because the package granted federal subsidies even to distant relatives of farmers that don’t farm.

…Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, a left-leaning environmentalist organization that has been critical of farm subsidies, notes that more than 1,000 “city slickers” who live in major American cities get farm subsidies. It’s absurd.

All in all, the nearly $1 trillion a year spent on farm subsidies and food aid is a massive waste, given that farmers on average have higher incomes than those who are taxed to subsidize them

As Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute points out, farm incomes in 2017 were 32% higher than average U.S. household incomes, while about 60% of subsidies for the three main farm programs went to the biggest 10% of farms. Welfare for the rich.

Meanwhile, the the new bill also provides “promotional funds” for farmers markets, research for organic farming, and money to train more farmers. It also grants more money to veteran and minority farmers. Everyone gets a handout, it seems, whether needed or not.

The editorial concludes:

In our increasingly socialized farm economy, nearly everyone is too big to fail. Which means the rest of us pay for it. President Trump, focused on other things, will likely sign this awful Farm Bill. After all, it has that golden seal of congressional approval: It was “bipartisan.” All that means is both sides found ways to rip off taxpayers.

The bill did not include work requirements for food stamps recipients. The Republican Congress had one job regarding the farm bill…

How Much Does It Cost?

The following chart was posted at The Washington Examiner today:

Although I object to the word ‘native’ being used in this context, the chart shows that a large portion of our tax money is going to people who are not American citizens. The real problem with this is that veterans and other Americans are not getting the services they need because money is limited and our national debt is skyrocketing. Supporting people who are here illegally is simply a luxury we can no longer afford.

The article further states:

  • In 2014, 63 percent of households headed by a non-citizen reported that they used at least one welfare program, compared to 35 percent of native-headed households.
  • Welfare use drops to 58 percent for non-citizen households and 30 percent for native households if cash payments from the Earned Income Tax Credit are not counted as welfare. EITC recipients pay no federal income tax. Like other welfare, the EITC is a means-tested, anti-poverty program, but unlike other programs one has to work to receive it.
  • Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).
  • Including the EITC, 31 percent of non-citizen-headed households receive cash welfare, compared to 19 percent of native households. If the EITC is not included, then cash receipt by non-citizen households is slightly lower than natives (6 percent vs. 8 percent).
  • While most new legal immigrants (green card holders) are barred from most welfare programs, as are illegal immigrants and temporary visitors, these provisions have only a modest impact on non-citizen household use rates because: 1) most legal immigrants have been in the country long enough to qualify; 2) the bar does not apply to all programs, nor does it always apply to non-citizen children; 3) some states provide welfare to new immigrants on their own; and, most importantly, 4) non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) can receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children who are awarded U.S. citizenship and full welfare eligibility at birth.

I am reminded of the line from the movie “Men In Black,” “We’re not hosting an intergalactic kegger down here.” We can do everything we can to help people in poor countries, but we need to understand that until those countries have some form of economic freedom, our aid simply goes to the corrupt officials at the top. The answer to the number of illegals coming to America is for those illegals to gather together to fight the corrupt governments in their own countries. Based on the fact that the large majority of the people currently trying to break into America are military-age men, we need to ask them to go back home and work to fix things. We simply cannot afford to taken in everyone in the world who is looking for a better life. At some point you simply cannot put any more people on the bus.

The Dangers Of Not Closely Monitoring Immigration

On Tuesday The Daily Wire posted an article about some recent information from the Department of Homeland Security.

The article reports:

The Department of Homeland Security revealed Tuesday that the threat of “fake families” declaring asylum together at the United States’ southern border is no joke; more than 150 illegal immigrant “families” have used non-familial children or adults to attempt to convince border patrol agents to allow them to remain in the country.

The Daily Caller reports that “there has been a 110 percent increase in male adults showing up at the border with children. Further, DHS separated 507 illegal immigrants between April 19 and September 30 because they fraudulently claimed they were part of a family unit.”

The thing to remember here is that there are people in various countries in South American coaching people on how to break into America. If that is a harsh word, I’m sorry–it is what is happening. I will admit that our immigration system needs serious reform, but that is no excuse for people thinking they can simply come here illegally and stay. Right now America is severely in debt. We have neglected our veterans and are not doing a good job of taking care of anyone. We cannot afford to be overrun with non-citizens who want to be taken care of.

When evaluating what is happening at our border, it might be wise to consider the Cloward-Piven strategy from the 1960’s. Cloward-Piven was a strategy to convert America to a socialist state (taken from Discover the Networks):

Inspired by the August 1965 riots in the black district of Watts in Los Angeles (which erupted after police had used batons to subdue a black man suspected of drunk driving), Cloward and Piven published an article titled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty” in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation. Following its publication, The Nation sold an unprecedented 30,000 reprints. Activists were abuzz over the so-called “crisis strategy” or “Cloward-Piven Strategy,” as it came to be called. Many were eager to put it into effect.

In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when “the rest of society is afraid of them,” Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation; poor people would rise in revolt; only then would “the rest of society” accept their demands. 

The key to sparking this rebellion would be to expose the inadequacy of the welfare state. Cloward-Piven’s early promoters cited radical organizer Saul Alinsky as their inspiration. “Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules,” Alinsky wrote in his 1971 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judaeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system’s failure to “live up” to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist “rule book” with a socialist one. 

This may well be what the caravans are actually about. If this theory is too wild for you, step back and look at the movement toward socialism in the recent election.

Are You Coming To America To Add To America Or Take From America?

The Washington Examiner posted an article Thursday about new rules from the Department of Homeland Security.

The article reports:

President Trump previewed the issue during a speech in Iowa last year, saying that “those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”

We need to remember that up until 1965, there was no welfare for immigrants (or Americans) to collect. People who came to America came in search of opportunity–not handouts.

The article notes:

The authors of a 2017 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine believed more immigration to be a good thing — and yet still found that nearly 60 percent of noncitizen, non-naturalized, immigrant-led households used some kind of welfare from 2011-2013. That’s compared to just 42 percent of homes led by native-born citizens.

A 2015 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates restricting immigration, found basically the same thing only looking at data for 2012. The study said that immigrant-led households consumed double the Medicaid and food assistance benefits that native ones did. Overall, 51 percent of immigrant-led homes used “any welfare,” compared to 30 percent for native homes.

There is a school of thought that says that illegal immigrants are prevented from collecting welfare, but that is not true.

The article explains:

Under current law, if immigrants have a baby on U.S. soil, as a default citizen, he’s instantly eligible to bring in welfare for the family. Or, if one immigrant marries a citizen, the wait time for benefits shrinks from five years to three. If the immigrants have any children under 18, they’re all allowed benefits, too.

In addition to that, all refugees and asylees, 13 percent of legal residents, according to the report by the Center for Immigration Studies, are eligible for full benefits.

Aside from being expensive, this is simply not acceptable. We need to go back to a time when churches and community organizations helped families on the local level. These groups knew who was in need and who was freeloading. Now we have a giant bureaucracy administering a program with the knowledge that if less people are on welfare the bureaucrats will lose their jobs. There is no incentive to actually get people off of welfare. That needs to change. New regulations will be the beginning of that change.

A Resettlement Program Gone Awry

Yesterday Scott Johnson (one of the regular writers at Power Line Blog) posted an article at The City Journal website. The article was related to some recent events involving large amounts of cash flowing from Minnesota to Somalia.

The article reports:

When it was noted that the carry-on bags of multiple airline passengers traveling from Minneapolis to Somalia contained millions of dollars in cash, on a regular basis, law enforcement was naturally curious to know where the money came from and where it was going. It soon emerged that millions of taxpayer dollars, and possibly much more, had been stolen through a massive scam of Minnesota’s social-services sector, specifically through fraudulent daycare claims. To make matters worse, the money appears to have wound up in areas of Somalia controlled by al-Shabab, the Islamic jihadist group responsible for numerous terrorist outrages.

The article goes on to explain that beginning in the 1990’s, the State Department began sending refugees from the Somalia civil war to be resettled in Minnesota. Minnesota now has the largest population of Somalis outside of Somalia.

The article reports:

As the Washington Times noted in 2015, in Minnesota, these refugees “can take advantage of some of America’s most generous welfare and charity programs.” Professor Ahmed Samatar of Macalester College in St. Paul observed, “Minnesota is exceptional in so many ways but it’s the closest thing in the United States to a true social democratic state.” A high-trust, traditionally homogenous community with a deep civil society marked by thrift, industriousness, and openness, Minnesota seemed like the ideal place to locate an indigent Somali population now estimated at 100,000.

Fast forward to 2015 when the House Homeland Security Committee task force on combating terrorist and foreign-fighter travel discovered that Minnesota led the nation in contributing foreign fighters to ISIS. It gets worse. The refugees masterminded a very lucrative daycare fraud scheme that sent millions of taxpayer dollars to terrorists in Somalia.

The article cites one such example:

The case of Fozia Ali, recently sworn in as a member of the park board of an upscale Twin Cities suburb, is illustrative. Ali’s daycare center in south Minneapolis was suspected of billing the government for more than $1 million of bogus child-care services. According to Special Agent Craig Lisher, the FBI “found records that she was collecting a significant amount of money for a much larger number of children than were actually attending the center.” Ali’s case also had an international component. “We are aware that some of the funds went overseas, what she was cashing out, money from the business,” Lisher noted. He declined to specify the purpose to which the funds were put.

Ali used a phone app to register charges to the Minnesota state government while she stayed at an $800-per-night hotel in Nairobi. She pleaded guilty in March to charges of wire fraud and is serving time in federal prison. But the scam goes well beyond Ali. Though the total loss to the state’s $248 million daycare program remains to be determined, we have a serious case of deceit, obviously. But the real damage, harder to measure, is likely to be to the high-trust values of Minnesota, where newcomers can dupe the natives so easily.

These are not the sort of refugees we need.

Some Charts From The Heritage Foundation About Welfare In America

On April 5, The Heritage Foundation posted an article titled, “Understanding the Hidden $1.1 Trillion Welfare System and How to Reform It.” I strongly suggest that you follow the link and read the entire article, but I would like to post some basic charts from the article:

The article lists three goals of welfare reform:

The goal of welfare should not be to reduce poverty after receipt of welfare through an ever-larger welfare state. A new approach is needed. The goal of welfare policy should be updated to include three other concepts:

  • Increasing efforts toward self-support;
  • Reducing self-defeating and self-limiting behaviors; and
  • Increasing psychological well-being.

It should be noted that adopting these new goals does not mean that the government should stop assisting the poor. For example, as noted previously, a low-wage parent who works full-time for the full year under the existing welfare system has combined economic resources from earnings and welfare assistance that are well above the poverty level. Ensuring that the families of full-time workers are not poor is a laudable goal that should continue to be pursued.58

The objective might be inappropriate for families with large numbers of children. See Rector and Sheffield, “Five Myths About Welfare and Child Poverty.”

 Unfortunately, the current structure of welfare assistance undermines rather than enhances self-support and psychological well-being. That aspect of the welfare system must be transformed.

It is time to combine charity and encouragement. We need to provide incentives for people to get off the welfare rolls. Welfare should not be a generational profession.

 

 

Marijuana Is Not Really Harmless

The U.K. Daily Mail posted an article today about the long-term impact of consistently smoking marijuana.

The article reports:

International research has revealed that the more cannabis you smoke, the more likely you are to be lower paid and have relationship difficulties.

The study followed children from birth up to the age of 38 and found people who smoked cannabis four or more days a week over many years ended up in a lower social class than their parents.

It also found that regular and persistent users ended up with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular cannabis smokers.

Financial, work-related and relationship difficulties were further experienced by those taking the drug, which worsened as the number of years of regular cannabis use progressed.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Magdalena Cerda at the University of California and Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt at Duke University, appeared in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

‘Our research does not support arguments for or against cannabis legalization,’ said Cerda. ‘But it does show that cannabis was not safe for the long-term users tracked in our study.

One of the things that amazes me is the move to legalize marijuana in America while stigmatizing smoking tobacco. Both are damaging to the lungs, both ingest various toxins into the body, but smoking tobacco does not generally impact your social or financial success. Marijuana is not a harmless drug, and it is not a good idea to legalize the use of recreational marijuana until there is more study of its long-term effects. It is also very naive to believe that saying that recreational marijuana, legal in some states for people over twenty-one, will not be used by those under twenty-one. Teenagers using marijuana on a regular basis will not be of benefit to our society.

America Needs To Learn The Lesson Britain Just Learned

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail posted an article about what is happening to the British workforce–it is growing and unemployment is going down!

The article reports:

A record 3,100 people every day are finding work as Britain’s jobless total falls at the fastest rate in 17 years.

The number of unemployed tumbled to 2.32million – falling by 167,000 between September and November, the biggest drop since 1997.

Yesterday the Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate is now at 7.1 per cent after falling faster than any economist or the Bank (Bank of England) predicted.

…In an unusually political statement, the Bank also said the Coalition’s benefits clampdown may have pushed more people into looking for work, rather than continuing to rely on State handouts. It said: ‘A tightening in the eligibility requirements for some State benefits might also have led to an intensification of job search.’ 

Meanwhile, Congress in America is debating extending unemployment benefits.

Statistics have shown that people collecting unemployment insurance tend to intensify their search for work as their unemployment benefits begin to run out. Extending unemployment or increasing welfare benefits does not encourage people to join the work force–it destroys motivation. In most cases, it is simply more fun not to have to get up and go to work every morning. When the government subsidizes not working, more people don’t work. I am not saying that we should end unemployment or welfare, but we should put enough restrictions on both to prevent generations of America who have not grasped the concept of working for a living. America needs to follow the example of Great Britain.

 

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The Need To Learn From Mistakes Made By Other Countries

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today stating that the Netherlands is changing the rules of its welfare state.

The article states:

The Netherlands has been known for its generous welfare system. Three decades ago, when the U.S. was spending about 22% of its GDP on entitlement programs, the Dutch were spending more than 40%. The Financial Times named the Dutch system a “comprehensive egalitarian social model” built in the 1960s and 1970s.

…Three months ago, newly coronated Dutch King Willem-Alexander told his country that the “classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century” was over. It would be replaced by a “participation society” because the “arrangements” the nation was operating under “are unsustainable in their current form.”

Among the changes is a requirement that welfare applicants must prove they have actively looked for a job for at least four weeks before they can receive benefits.

“And once they begin to receive benefits they will either have to work or perform volunteer community service,” says the Cato Institute‘s Michael Tanner.

Other savings will be found when youth services, care for the elderly and job retraining are kicked down to the local level, which is better equipped to be more efficient with other people’s money.

The Dutch have learned that those who work cannot support those who do not work indefinitely. Eventually those who work get very tired and decide to join the non-workers. If we do not learn the lesson the Dutch have learned, we can also expect to have to make drastic changes in the near future.

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Work vs Welfare

Below is the Executive Summary from a white paper released by the CATO Institute on August 19. The white paper was entitled, “The Work versus Welfare Trade-Off: 2013.”

Executive Summary

In 1995, the Cato Institute published a groundbreaking study,The Work vs. WelfareTrade-Off, which estimated the value of the full package of welfare benefits available to a typical recipient in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It found that not only did the value of such benefits greatly exceed the poverty level but, because welfare benefits are tax-free, their dollar value was greater than the amount of take-home income a worker would receive from an entry-level job.

Since then, many welfare programs have undergone significant change, including the 1996 welfare reform legislation that ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. Accordingly, this paper examines the current welfare system in the same manner as the 1995 paper. Welfare benefits continue to outpace the income that most recipients can expect to earn from an entry-level job, and the balance between welfare and work may actually have grown worse in recent years.

The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work. Welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, even after accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in 13 states it pays more than $15 per hour. If Congress and state legislatures are serious about reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work, they should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions, and narrowing the definition of work. Moreover, states should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements.

One of the things that has made America great has been the willingness of Americans to work hard, knowing their diligence would be rewarded. When the government creates a situation where staying home doing nothing pays as well as working, it undermines the work ethic in America and weakens our country. It might also be a good idea to examine the role the tax burden plays in this–does the working person earn less because of the tax burden that comes with working? Is the welfare recipient subject to a lesser tax burden?

The bottom line here is simple. People are not stupid. If a person can make as much money not working as he would working, why should he work? I recently posted a story with a striking example of this philosophy at rightwinggranny.com. We need to reinstate the work requirements to receive aid, and we need to be more aware of who is getting aid so that we can limit fraud.

It’s time to make sure that the people who are working hard are rewarded for their hard work.

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What Are Our Welfare Programs Encouraging?

On Friday, Fox News posted the following video (also in YouTube):

So how is it possible to live on the generosity of the American taxpayer with no concept of working for a living? In September 2012, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air noted the impact of the 2009 Stimulus Bill on the Food Stamp Program. Included in the Stimulus Bill were changes in the welfare program that waived the work requirement and made it easier for people with no intention of working to collect benefits.

The article at Hot Air reports:

In addition to the broader work requirement that has become a contentious issue in the presidential race, the 1996 welfare reform law included a separate rule encouraging able-bodied adults without dependents to work by limiting the amount of time they could receive food stamps. President Obama suspended that rule when he signed his economic stimulus legislation into law, and the number of these adults on food stamps doubled, from 1.9 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2010, according to the CRS report, issued in the form of a memo to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

“This report once again confirms that President Obama has severely gutted the welfare work requirements that Americans have overwhelmingly supported since President Clinton signed them into law,” Cantor said in an emailed statement. “It’s time to reinstate these common-sense measures, and focus on creating job growth for those in need.”

This is the law that allows a beach bum in California to surf his life away and eat lobster on the money paid in taxes by families struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

I think it’s time for Congress to grow a backbone and change the law back to what it was. That alone will save millions of dollars in federal spending.

 

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We Fought The War On Poverty And We Lost

The war on poverty began in the 1960’s. In 1959, the poverty rate was 22.4%. In 1969, shortly after the war on poverty began, the poverty rate was 12.1%. Today the poverty rate is 16.1%. It looks to me as though we are losing ground–not gaining it.

These figures are from an article in Forbes Magazine posted yesterday. The article points out:

Federal and state governments spend a trillion dollars a year just on these means tested welfare programs, which does not include Social and Medicare. That is more than we spend on national defense. It adds up to roughly $17,000 per person in poverty, over $50,000 for a poor family of three. The Census Bureau estimates that our current welfare spending totals four times what would be necessary just to give all of the poor the cash to bring them up to the poverty line, eliminating all poverty in America. A recent book by Charles Murray, In These Hands, further documents that.

The article also points out that from 1965 to 2008 the total amount of money spent on means tested welfare is nearly $16 trillion–in 2008 dollars. That is double the amount America has spent on military conflicts from the Revolution until today.

The article reports:

One major reason that poverty stopped declining after the War on Poverty started is that the poor and lower income population stopped working. In 1960, nearly two-thirds of households in the lowest income one-fifth of the population were headed by persons who worked. But by 1991, this work effort had declined by about 50%, with only one-third of household heads in the bottom 20% in income working, and only 11% working full-time, year round.

The war on poverty has also destroyed low-income families and increased the number of out-of-wedlock births. It has increased the number of one parent homes and children with two unmarried parents.

Please follow the link above and read to entire article. The article explains the negative impact the war on poverty has had on our society. It also explains how to solve some of the problems associated with the way the current welfare state is funded. We need to change the way we help those among us who are less fortunate. What we are currently doing is not working.

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Would Taxpayer Money Flow So Freely If The Taxpayers Were In Charge Of Spending It?

Yesterday I posted an article about the number of dead people collecting welfare benefits in Massachusetts (rightwinggranny.com). Well, it seems as if Massachusetts is not the only state that can’t keep track of where welfare dollars are going.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that prisoners in New Jersey had erroneously received welfare benefits.

The article reports:

Over a 22-month period, New Jersey paid nearly $24 million in unemployment, welfare, pension and other benefits to 20,000 people who did not qualify for them because they were in prison, according to a report from the state comptroller released on Wednesday.

…Some of the people in prison — those whose Medicaid benefits were paid out to managed care organizations, for instance — may not have been aware they were defrauding the state. In other cases, the fraud seemed deliberate; in addition to the $24 million in benefits improperly paid out, the audit found that 13 state employees had used sick leave to cover their time in prison. (The report said this resulted in “relatively immaterial amounts of improper payments.”)

One of the questions that immediately comes to mind when I read that last paragraph is, “What were the state employees doing in prison and how long were they there?” Can you imaging anyone in the private sector having enough sick leave to cover a prison term?

I think we can safely conclude at this time that the ‘safety net’ is broken. It’s not broken because it is not helping people who genuinely need it–it is broken because it is subsidizing lifestyles of people who do not need or deserve to be subsidized.

I suspect that what has happened in Massachusetts and New Jersey regarding welfare payments going to people who were either dead or not entitled to them is only the tip of the iceberg. We have people in this country working hard, scrimping to get buy, and being taxed to death to support fraud. It’s time we held states accountable for how they spend taxpayers’ money. If a state is not doing a good job, it’s time to elect new officials. Voters need to pay attention and take a stand.

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Collecting Welfare Benefits In Massachusetts

I know that there are a lot of people collecting welfare benefits and that makes it hard to keep track of every penny, but Massachusetts has taken inefficiency to a new level. WCVB reported yesterday that an audit of the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance identified 1,164 cases where recipients continued to receive a total of $2.39 million in benefits from six to 27 months after they were reported to be deceased.

Boston.com also commented on the audit:

The report, which covered food stamps, cash, and other benefits to low-income families, estimated that recipients using a dead person’s Social Security number alone received at least $2.4 million in between July 2010 and April 2012. It also flagged another $15 million in suspicious transactions from electronic benefit cards during the two-and-a-half-year period the auditor reviewed.

Boston.com also reported:

The state auditor also found another $15 million in suspicious transitions on electronic benefit cards – including nearly $5 million where all the food benefits were withdrawn at once; $4.6 million in transactions from distant states or territories (including Hawaii, Florida, and Puerto Rico); $3.6 million where recipients made multiple purchases or withdrawals within an hour; $1.5 million where recipients regularly rang up transactions in even dollar amounts (such as $100) and $840,000 where a card number was manually entered into a retail terminal instead of being swiped (suggesting a card user may have stolen the card number, but didn’t have the actual card).

This is taxpayers’ money. If those responsible for spending it cannot do a better job of being responsible, we should stop giving them the money.

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Misplaced Anger

On Friday, CNS News posted a story quoting Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Bob Johnson as saying that America would “never tolerate white unemployment at 14 or 15 percent” and yet unemployment for the black community has been double that of white Americans for over 50 years. That statement is true, and that fact is evidence of something wrong with our education and employment system as it currently exists. However, before we yell racism, let’s look at some of the things that surround black unemployment.

In 1962, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Senator from New York who was very concerned about how American welfare programs were impacting the black family, noticed that because of the changes made to the welfare system, the number of black households without fathers present was increasing dramatically (City Journal Summer 2005). Before then, welfare was provided to families below a certain income whether or not the husband and father was living in the house. Welfare was changed in the 1960’s so that it was financially advantageous for a husband and father not to be living in the home. At that point, the black culture changed from one of strong families to one of single mothers. (Just for the record, much of the white culture is following the same path). Single-parent families are statistically much more likely to live below the poverty level than two-parent families.

High unemployment rates for blacks are a problem. High unemployment rates for anyone are a problem. If Bob Johnson is truly concerned about black unemployment, he needs to move within the black culture to support families, family values, and good education from kindergarten through college. One attempt at this, the Head Start Program, has yielded unimpressive results. We can do better.

On July 11, 2007, Time reported:

It is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program’s effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.

According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade. Head Start graduates performed about the same as students of similar income and social status who were not part of the program. These results were so shocking that the HHS team sat on them for several years, according to Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who said, “I guess they were trying to rerun the data to see if they could come up with anything positive. They couldn’t.”

So how do we change the black unemployment numbers? Actually, the place to start is the government. First of all, Obamacare is having a negative impact on employment for everyone–repeal it. Second of all, we need to take a good look at welfare programs and how they impact the people who receive the money (and while we are at it, examine the administrative cost). Third, we need community leaders who support black families and encourage black children to speak proper English, get a good education, get married after they finish school, and have children after they get married–not before. We then need to revise our welfare programs so that they promote intact families, and do not promote dependence upon the government. We need workfare programs–first of all to make welfare less attractive, and secondly to provide the experience (and expectation) of getting out of bed every morning and going to work. Workfare also provides experience in doing some sort of work–whatever it is. We need to re-educate both the black and white communities on the free enterprise system to allow those who can be entrepreneurs to do so (we also need to modify our tax system so that it pays to be an entrepreneur).

We need black leaders who do not preach dependence. We need black leaders who do not preach hatred and blame. We need black leaders who want to bring the black community into equality with the white community in the areas of education, housing, opportunities, and success. That can be done by promoting responsibility, patriotism, cooperation with authority, and basic values. Racism, hatred, and blame will get us nowhere. We need a positive approach.

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Why Massachusetts Needs Two Political Parties

A one-party political system does not work, regardless of which political party it is. As Dr. Benjamin Carson stated in his address at the National Prayer Breakfast, “But, why is that eagle able to fly, high, forward? Because it has two wings: a left wing and a right wing. Enough said.”

Anyway. The Boston Herald is reporting today that the glitch in the Massachusetts welfare department has cost the Massachusetts taxpayers $3.4 million in overtime.

The article reports:

More than 900 employees in the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) — mostly caseworkers — shared in the $3.4 million OT bonanza between November 2010 and May 2011, the department acknowledged after a Herald public records request.

DTA authorized the wages — an average of roughly $3,500 each — so staff could address a backlog of 30,000 clients whose eligibility had to be recertified after the agency overpaid food-stamp clients by $27 million in federal money.

I suppose we should be grateful that at least the overpaid food-stamp clients were paid with federal money. Federal money–are these the same people who keep telling us they can’t cut spending?

The article also reports:

The welfare department has been undergoing a shake-up since ex-Commissioner Daniel Curley was forced to resign on Jan 31, after a devastating inspector general’s report claiming another $25 million in taxpayer money is going to welfare recipients who aren’t eligible.

One of the people who has been on top of this from the start is state Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton). Her response to this mess was, “The governor recently called this leakage — I would call this an avalanche. This is an astronomical number to pay out in overtime for outright mismanagement.”

Hopefully she will continue to hold the Massachusetts government responsible for their total mismanagement of taxpayer money.

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The Black Hole Tax Money Enters

Remember the dust up in Massachusetts when before the election when the state Welfare Department sent out voter-registration forms to welfare recipients? There were links between the Elizabeth Warren campaign and the state-funded campaign to register voters, but that was quietly swept under the table by the media. There is another part of the story, however, that may be even more interesting to follow.

Today’s Boston Herald posted an article explaining that many of the forms sent were returned as undeliverable.

The article reports:

Red-faced state officials admitted last night they are trying to find as many as 19,000 missing welfare recipients — after the controversial taxpayer-funded voter registration pitches the state mailed to their addresses last summer were sent back marked “Return to sender, address unknown.”

The Department of Transitional Assistance contacted 477,000 welfare recipients who were on their books from June 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012, after settling a voter-rights lawsuit brought by Democratic-leaning activist groups that demanded an aggressive voter information effort by the state. That $274,000 push by DTA resulted in 31,000 new voter registrations — but revealed an alarming number of welfare recipients whose residency in Massachusetts can’t be confirmed.

The article reports that many of these welfare recipients continue to receive their benefits through direct deposits to their bank accounts although the state has no way of knowing whether they still live in the state. This is just one example of how well the states manage the money taxpayers give them.

The biggest mistake we ever made in America was putting an income tax in place. Prior to 1913, there was no federal income tax, although one had been levied briefly during the Civil War and was later repealed. The second biggest mistake was using withholding to pay the tax. If everyone realized how much they were actually paying in taxes, Americans might demand that the government shrink to a reasonable size!

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One Place We Need To Consider Cutting The Budget

I realize that I am about to sound like Scrooge at Christmas, but I really feel this situation is getting out of hand.

From The Weekly Standard:

The article is not clear on how much of that money goes to the recipient and how much supports the bureaucracy; but either way, I think we need to do some re-evaluating of the success of our poverty programs.

There is no incentive for someone in government to help someone on welfare get off of welfare–if there is no one on welfare, the government worker has no program to administer. There is no incentive for the person on welfare to get off of welfare because not working takes less effort than working. Also, in many cases, welfare pays more than working. Thus our welfare programs have become the government equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

The article at The Weekly Standard states:

For fiscal year 2011, CRS identified roughly 80 overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense.

…The diffuse and overlapping nature of federal welfare spending has led to some confusion regarding the scope and nature of benefits. For instance, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has recently received a great deal of attention for adopting the “food stamp diet” in which he spends only $4 a day on food (the median individual benefit) to apparently illustrate the insufficiency of food stamp spending ($80 billion a year) or the impossibility of reductions. The situation Booker presents, however, is not accurate: a low-income individual on food stamps may qualify for $25,000 in various forms of welfare support from the federal government on top of his or her existing income and resources—including access to 15 different food assistance programs. Further, even if one unrealistically assumes that no other welfare benefits are available, the size of the food stamp benefit increases as one’s income decreases, as the benefit is designed as a supplement to existing resources; it is explicitly not intended to be the sole source of funds for purchasing food.

It’s time for a Mulligan on welfare programs. We fought the war on poverty and we lost.

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Welfare Spending In America

The Heritage Foundation posted the following chart in October in an article about Paul Ryan‘s plan to reform welfare:

The article reports:

Tragically, this massive welfare state has been a driver of dependency. Today, 100 million Americans—roughly one-third of the U.S. population—receive aid from a government welfare program (not including Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment insurance).

As Ryan noted, in the 1990s Congress passed the historic welfare reform law, inserting work requirements into the largest federal cash assistance program. This was a huge success.

“[W]e saw welfare enrollment drop dramatically, as millions of our fellow citizens gained new lives of independence,” Ryan said. “We saw child poverty rates fall over 20 percent in four years—and we saw employment for single mothers rise.”

But these reforms are at risk. In July of this year, the Obama Administration announced it would remove work requirements from welfare reform—the very element that made the law such a success.

At what point will this kind of institutionalized dependency result in the loss of America as we know it?

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Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your People Looking For A Free Lunch

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article yesterday about some changes made to the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Website and the information packets given to new immigrants. The website (and the packets) now promote federal welfare benefits.

The article reports:

Rather than ensuring that immigrants will not become liabilities to the public purse, the Obama administration explicitly lures them to the U.S. with promises of lavish welfare benefits–a policy that is both illegal and perverse. This web site promoting federal welfare benefits, now the largest item in the federal budget, mirrors information that is included in packets given to new arrivals in the U.S.

Senator Jeff Sessions released the following statement yesterday calling for the removal of the welfare information from the website:

“The Department of Homeland Security’s effort to enroll immigrants in welfare raises serious legal, social, and financial issues.

 Federal law prohibits the granting of visas to those likely to be welfare reliant, yet DHS actively promotes these benefits to millions of new arrivals every year. DHS knows this, which is perhaps why they refuse to comply with an oversight request on this very issue from the Ranking Members of four Senate Committees.

 It is a long-held principle of immigration that those seeking a life in America are expected to be able to care for themselves financially and contribute to the financial health of the nation. The Administration’s actions show this principle is no longer in effect. Encouraging self-sufficiency must be a bedrock for our immigration policy, with the goal of reducing poverty, strengthening the family, and promoting our economic values. But Administration officials and their policies are working actively against this goal. At the same time, those who would be self-sufficient are denied or delayed in their admittance.

 This is of course a financial issue as well. America spends enough each year on welfare to equal $60,000 for every household beneath the poverty line. Welfare is now the largest item in the budget and is projected to grow another 30 percent in the next four years. We should not pursue an immigration policy that places even more strain on the funding for domestic programs.

 DHS should remove any sections of its website, and any portions of its materials for new arrivals, that promote or encourage welfare reliance. And DHS should respond, at once, to the outstanding oversight request on its failure to enforce legally mandated welfare restrictions. The American people deserve to know the hidden truth about how our immigration system is being run.”

It is illegal to grant visas to people who are likely to become dependent on welfare. The obvious question is. “Why is the Obama Administration choosing to break the law, and what did they hope to gain by changing the website and the information brochure given to new immigrants?”

 

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One Of The First Casualties Of The Democratic Convention Is Truth

The Foundry at Heritage.org posted an article today about President Clinton’s remarks in his speech last night that President Obama has not gutted the work requirements passed in the Welfare Reform Act during the Clinton Administration.

The article reminds us:

Last night, in his nationally televised speech, former President Bill Clinton said the charge that President Obama has gutted welfare reform was “a real doozy.”

The Heritage Foundation pointed out some basic facts that contradict this statement.

The article quotes Robert Rector, who helped write the 1996 law:

The Obama Administration will put in mothballs the formal purpose of welfare reform—to reduce the number of people dependent on government benefits. The Administration will abandon the legislative performance goal that encourages states to reduce welfare caseloads. It will weaken the “work participation” standards that require some 30 percent of able-bodied Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients to engage in work activities for 20 to 30 hours per week.

The changes that the Obama Administration has made to welfare reform will create more dependency–not encourage people to find work and contribute to society rather than take from it.

Mr. Rector further explains:

In the typical state, 1.5 percent of the TANF caseload leaves welfare and obtains work each month. Thus, any state can be fully exempted from the TANF work requirements if it raises the number of exits to 1.8 percent. This is a miniscule change. What will the other 98.2 percent of the caseload be doing? No one knows for sure. But one thing we do know for certain: They will be exempt from the federal “work participation” requirements established in the welfare reform law.

I realize this may seem a little trivial, but it is not–for two reasons. First of all, the change in the law encourages dependency on the government–never a good thing, and second of all, it is obvious that President Clinton was lying. It is also obvious that the mainstream media is not going to report that President Clinton was lying.

It is truly time for a housecleaning in Washington. At the same time we initiate housecleaning, we need to impose term limits, end retirement pay for Congressmen (put them under Social Security or other programs they have to contribute to), and refuse to pay Congress if they do not pass a budget. These ideas may seem a little drastic, but these are drastic times.

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What Are The Rights Of A Private Vendor ?

Today’s Boston Herald posted a story about Andrea Taber, owner of the Ever So Humble Pie Co. in Walpole. Ms. Tabor sells her pies at the Braintree market on Fridays. She has caused a controversy by refusing to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards as payment for her pies at the market.

The article reports:

“I don’t think American taxpayers should be footing the bill for people’s pie purchases,” said Andrea Taber, proprietor of the Ever So Humble Pie Co. in Walpole, who peddles her wares at the Braintree market on Fridays and now finds herself in the middle of the state’s raging fight over welfare benefits.

The article concludes:

Businesses must apply and be approved to accept EBT cards, and normally are not obliged to do so. Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Daniel Curley said the state wants welfare recipients to “access healthy food,” but he declined to weigh in on whether farmers markets that choose to accept EBT cards can compel their vendors to take part.

I have very mixed emotions on this issue. I would like to think that EBT cards are used to make healthy food purchases, but I really don’t like the idea of anyone being able to control another person’s food purchases. The issue is complicated by the fact that the taxpayers are paying for those food purchases, but it still feels intrusive to me.

It will be interesting to see how this controversy ends.

 

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The End Of Welfare Reform

Yesterday the welfare reforms of the 1990’s ended. There was no note, there was no trumpet fanfare, and I haven’t seen it on the news. What happened? An executive order by President Obama cut out the heart of the welfare reform bill passed during the Clinton Administration.

The Corner at National Review reported:

The welfare reform law was very successful. In the four decades prior to welfare reform, the welfare caseload never experienced a significant decline. But, in the four years after welfare reform, the caseload dropped by nearly half. Employment surged and child poverty among blacks and single mothers plummeted to historic lows. What was the catalyst for these improvements? Rigorous new federal work requirements contained in TANF.

Contrary to some perceptions, the formula that made welfare reform a success was not giving state governments more flexibility in operating federally funded welfare programs. The active ingredient that made the difference was requiring state governments to implement those rigorous new federal work standards.

The article explains how the work requirement was changed:

…the Obama administration issued a dramatic new directive stating that the traditional TANF work requirements will be waived or overridden by a legal device called a section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).

Section 1115 allows HHS to “waive compliance” with specified parts of various laws. But this is not an open-ended authority: All provisions of law that can be overridden under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself.

The welfare reform bill was vetoed by Bill Clinton twice before he signed it.

The article concludes:

Obama’s new welfare decree guts sound anti-poverty policy. The administration tramples on the actual legislation passed by Congress and seeks to impose its own policy choices — a pattern that has become all too common in this administration.

The result is the end of welfare reform as we know it.

This is another example of executive overreach. All this does is create more government dependency, increase the size of government, and change a policy that was successful. It is time to elect a new President.

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When Elected Officials Ignore The Wishes Of Their Constituents

No, this is not an article about President Obama and healthcare–it is an article about the misuse of the cards given to welfare recipients. In Massachusetts we have what are called EBT cards, which allow people collecting welfare to purchase food for their families.

The Boston Herald is reporting today that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick vetoed the reforms of the EBT card laws.

The article reports:

While signing the state’s $32.5 billion budget yesterday, Patrick rejected an outside section containing the welfare benefits card reforms that had been hammered out with bi-partisan support in the House and Senate — an effort spearheaded by House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop).

The reforms would have banned EBT buys of guns, porn, tattoos, jewelry and manicures. He allowed the banning of EBT cards in tattoo parlors, gun shops, casinos, cruise ships, strip clubs and adult entertainment centers, saying the independent EBT Card Commission had ruled out the idea of banning specific products “for reasons of feasibility, enforceability (and) cost.”

The purpose of the EBT card is to allow people in need to provide food and necessities to themselves and their families. To allow these cards to be used for non-necessities is unfair to the taxpayers who may be going without these luxuries in order to pay their tax bills!

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