Shelter report: Romney’s little welfare princesses

A new ad from the Romney campaign accuses President Obama of softening work requirements for welfare recipients.

We had a full house of 20 kids in the preschool today. About five children are preparing to enter kindergarten and had some outside classroom work in the morning. There was also a session for their parents helping to orient them to kindergarten and to know what to expect when their child starts school.

I suppose for people who’ve never visited a homeless shelter, the image is about cots or bunk beds and free meals instead of support programs to help families get back on their feet. Here at People Serving People, the walls and elevators are papered with announcements about programs to help residents find work, prepare for interviews, take classes, develop techniques to deal with stress, tutoring kids, improve parenting skills, etc.

According to Mitt Romney, none of this would exist if President Obama is re-elected:

Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and you wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.

Follow the link if you want more background. Obama’s offer of a waiver to states on welfare requirements means states can try new ways to get people back to work without the states losing their federal funding. Governors have to request the waiver, and some GOP governors have already asked for more flexibility of this sort. Obama himself won’t change anything; the state must have a plan to get people off welfare and into jobs sooner.

Romney’s statement is what used to be called a lie. The media are reluctant call out lies, so they’re even less likely to point out why the lie’s being floated. It’s all about resurrecting the mythical welfare queens of the Reagan era and stirring up resentment of the poor.

If conservative voters really understood what’s left of welfare after the reforms of 1996, they might be more supportive of the program. If they saw the programs available in our shelter, they’d see how they contribute to more stable families and better outcomes for kids.

But the discourse isn’t even close to that level.

For example, did you know a family of three in Minnesota has to earn less than $12,804 (all data from 2007) to qualify for “welfare” cash assistance? And if they earned the maximum and raked in every eligible dollar for a full year, at best, they’d still only have just over $19,000 to live on.

Of just under 67,000 total recipients in the state, 26% were adults. Of the remaining 74% who were children, nearly half were kids who did not have a parent receiving benefits.

Yet read Romney’s statement again. It’s not only wrong about the job training; it’s misleading about who is actually getting that welfare check.

I don’t know how many of the kids I work with receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, but I do know any little welfare princesses in my classroom won’t be on it for long. There’s a 60 month lifetime limit on their families receiving federally funded benefits.

This blog was written by Charlie Quimby and originally published on Across the Great Divide. Follow Charlie on Twitter: @CharlieQuimby. 

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 08/10/2012 - 08:53 pm.

    Thank you for this

    I often see conservatives in online forums repeating lies about the poor, including complaints that “hardworking taxpayers” have to support “people who spend their whole lives on welfare.” The corollary is that only “people sucking from the government teat” vote Democratic.

    I’ve even seen people express the wish that they could quit their jobs and go on welfare so they could sit around all day.

    A friend of mine who lost her job at age 57 and never worked full-time again used to get grief for using the Oregon equivalent of an EBT card because she still had her good clothes from work and wore them to put a brave face on her situation. Plenty of people assumed that she was a “welfare cheat.”

    It would be hilarious if one of these smart-alecs actually quit his job and tried to qualify for welfare or food stamps while owning a house and having money in the bank.

    I’ve never had to go on welfare or use food stamps, but I’ve worked temp at minimum wage jobs and volunteered among poor people enough to know how many Catch-22s low-income people encounter in their everyday lives.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/11/2012 - 10:21 am.

    The 80’s called…

    Republicans are groping for the next big divisive issue but their lack of imagination is just bringing them back to old ones.

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