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More Job Creation From The Minnesota GOP

by Dan Burns on March 21, 2011 · 2 comments

It will be interesting, to look back on this Minnesota legislative session and try to determine what, specifically, was the most preposterous, idiotic, and disgusting piece of GOP/teabagger-inspired legislation. Here’s a candidate:

On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota's welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant – and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?”

House File 171 would make it so that families on MFIP – and disabled single adults on General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Aid – could not have their cash grants in cash or put into a checking account. Rather, they could only use a state-issued debit card at special terminals in certain businesses that are set up to accept the card.

The bill also calls for unconstitutional residency requirements, not allowing the debit card to be used across state lines and other provisions that the Welfare Rights Committee and others consider unacceptable.

One might question, upon reading the proposed legislation, where the “crime” part comes from.  Here’s the deal.  You couldn’t have more than $20 cash from your grant.  Any financial source other than your grant has to be reported.  So if you happen to have $20.01 cash to your name, and didn’t run right down to declare the excess, that’s “welfare fraud.”

More below the fold.
Any politically engaged progressive reading this, knows what this is really all about, to wit:

This is in line with the GOP’s successful brand of dog whistle politics. The inner-city “young buck” on welfare eating $20 t-bones while you work your butt off for that suburban McMansion is a staple. It’s not subtle — this is being spun as a way to keep recipients of public assistance from blowing it on beer and lotto tickets.

We can actually go a little further, in analyzing the psychology of this.  Many people love to act all sanctimonious and self-righteous, at least partly as a way of trying to divert attention – their own attention, first and foremost – from the sad realities, the frustrated ambitions and forestalled dreams, of their own dreary lives.  I recall seeing a letter to a newspaper advice columnist, years ago, from a teenaged girl who liked to wander around a local mall with a young child in a stroller.  She was fed up with all the accusatory looks, shakes of the head, and tsk-tsking she got, from people who took for granted that she was an unwed teenaged mother.  The young’n was, in fact, her brother, but people just had to jump to conclusions in order to enjoy the satisfaction of indulging in a little public shaming.

The idea that this legislation would do much of anything to help deal with Minnesota’s pressing issues, the Pawlenty Deficit and the sagging economy, is ludicrous.  Here are the sorts of things, that need to be addressed.  But that legislative GOPers will find some political courage and integrity, and do that, is most unlikely.  

TheShannonFiles March 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Roger and I covered this extensively, last Saturday on our show. I have a little disconnect from what seems to be the typical progressive position on this issue.

I also wrote about it in the blog. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little accountability from those who are accepting public assistance. I’ve been in this boat. Plus, in 30 years of cab driving, much of that time in the inner-cities, I see how the system is abused by people that use public assistance money to buy booze, smokes, and lottery tickets. Just ask proprietors of liquor stores in the inner-city how brisk their business is around the first of the month.

If this is about trimming programs for the needy, I’m right there with you. I would argue that the money saved by cutting the abuse could go to help MORE needy people.  

dan.burns March 22, 2011 at 12:50 am

on one of the posts that I linked, and you certainly have a good point.  It would be ideal if nobody abused the system, but those who really want to, are likely to find a way.

That’s why I presented this as primarily the same old right wing grandstanding.  Some welfare recipients “killing the pain” at the beginning of every month – and, to be honest, I’m not sure I’m ready to condemn them outright for that, given their situations…I ain’t perfect, myself…- are not what caused the Pawlenty Deficit.  And this isn’t an effective way to deal with it.  ”Handouts-for-the-haves” governance, is what needs the big fix.

I see you upgraded your site.  Looks good.

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