Did the war on poverty really fail? No, but it wasn't a rip roaring success either, thanks to the efforts of the Republican Party. And oh yea, what about "block grants" and "accountability?"
The idea that Republicans want to restore "accountability" to taxpayer funded programs and policy is ludicrous. In one of the states biggest expenditures, education, Republicans made a point of reducing school accountability for taxpayer supported vouchers. Environmentally, they've almost completely eliminated any accountability for keeping our water supply plentiful and clean.
Block Grant Scam that made the War on Poverty look bad: And now, research has revealed the same thing happened to the welfare reform "block grant" program, otherwise known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The term "Block grant" is the first clue the Republican scam is on. Block grants allow Republican states to do pretty much anything they want with taxpayer money, federal or state, by reducing safety net programs and political accountability.
In a January 2016 paper titled “The Need for Common-Sense Conservative Welfare Reform,” he wrote:Sounds like a scam to me. It basically allows Republicans like Scott Walker to pass budget busting tax and spending cuts, at the expense of those who really need it. It also adds to the GOP meme that government can't do anything right, a campaign winner that increases public resentment and anger, and produces lots of Republican votes. These are all GOP poison pill policy decisions that lets them off the hook, and avoid accountability:
“TANF is not ‘welfare reform’ at all, but a fixed and flexible funding stream that has failed to provide an adequate safety net or an effective welfare-to-work program. In many states, it has become a slush fund used to supplant state spending and fill budget holes.”
There are many reasons why TANF has not been a successful anti-poverty program, but I think these are the primary factors:Paul Ryan's Block Grant Scam: Anyone surprised?
1. The funding level has been frozen since TANF was created, and the fixed appropriation level has lost 35 percent of its value over that 20-year period.
2. Much of the funding is being spent for administration rather than direct assistance.
3. States are able to use TANF funds in ways that supplant money the state had had previously spent from its own coffers, as illustrated by Wisconsin’s use of TANF funds to reduce state support for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Nevertheless, some conservatives consider TANF to be a success. Speaker Paul Ryan and a number of other Republican lawmakers want to use it as a model for changing Medicaid into a block grant to states, rather than an entitlement program.And that just fosters more resentment while intentionally building on the scheme that government can't do anything right. Go GOP.
A new report by CBPP contains a number of good recommendations for addressing TANF’s failures.
But the most important lesson is that TANF should not be used as a model for changes to critical safety net programs like Medicaid and Food Share.
As Germanis wrote this week about the Task Force Report offered by Speaker Ryan and a number of other Republican lawmakers, “it would not solve problems, it would add to them.”