Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Walker's "Starve the Kids" program for under and unemployed parents, a GOP money saver!

Scott Walker's plan to require a Dickensian 30 hours a week rule to get food stamps and housing benefits is unrealistically strict for a reason; Republicans want to destroy the public safety net system and basically create slave labor for undesirable low wage jobs. It's politics of resentment + politics of demoralization.

Welcome to Walker's world, where withholding food and housing is no longer a sick immoral decision, unimagined in a more civilized society.

Food stamps represent a kind of "basic income," something I've written about many times here. And while some countries are already experimenting with a basic income, the U.S. is attacking the safety nets themselves, killing any possible move in that direction. Check out this interactive map detailing each Wisconsin county. There's more below on the concept of a basic income, but first...

Goodbye to Free or Reduced School Lunches? For a while, my own kids got a reduced lunch, and it was an economic lifesaver for us. Walker's new work requirement of 30 hours has nothing to do with pushing anyone into full-time better-paying jobs, but everything to do with cutting state spending, and it's not just me saying it. Walker's idea fits right into the new Farm Bill reform plan, that analysts say will devastate the working poor:
23,400 children in Wisconsin losing access to FoodShare benefits. That's about 8% of children who are now enrolled in the food stamp program in Wisconsin, and many of them would also likely lose free or reduced-price lunches in their schools as well, according to a memo from the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office.
The GOP's "it was meant to be a temporary" Program BS: Since successfully selling minimum wage jobs as something that was "meant to be temporary," which of course is no longer true, Republicans are now using that same line for food stamps. But wait, maybe negative income growth and the loss of benefits in the workplace changed what was "meant" with both minimum wages and food stamps?
Republicans have said that the FoodShare program is meant to be a temporary form of assistance ... it's a good time to encourage parents to get jobs, they say.
Qualifying for food stamps also includes school lunches:
A new memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau and requested by Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, shows 23,369 children could lose their subsidized school lunches because their families will lose benefits through the state's food stamp program known as FoodShare.
The 2018 Farm Bill income limit is 200 percent of the federal poverty level, but in Wisconsin it's 133 percent, meaning those in the state-fed gap have to jump through another "small government" hoop to get the paperwork to manually sign up instead of being automatically enrolled.

In my line of work, I talk to people at every income and non-income level, and I just don't see people trying to game the system at all. Many are struggling with health or family issues, and some just don't have the mental capacity to navigate a very complicated system designed to frustrate the even the smartest applicants. They simply do without and suffer the consequences.

I think the reaction below says it all about Walker lack of competence to govern and solve problems. These are all strictly ideologically driven goals that have no real application in the real world:
A spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker did not immediately respond to questions about whether his administration plans to create ways to ensure families who are still eligible for free and reduced-price school lunches through the National School Lunch Program to receive the aid. A spokesman for the state Department of Public Instruction also was not immediately able to comment on efforts the department is planning if the proposed changes become law. 
This is now a government that's not serving the people, but that's oddly working against them:

Likely save $9 billion in that time through recipients losing benefits The LFB analysis released Tuesday also projects 75,720 FoodShare recipients, or 11 percent of the total number of recipients statewide, would lose benefits under the bill's proposed changes.
Walker's new food share rules are open to abuse, like the incentive to drop as many recipients as possible..?
Require pay-for-performance standards in the state's contracts with private groups that help run the state's FoodShare and separate Welfare to Work, or W-2, programs. Create an up to $20 million fund to pay private contractors ... could use the money to pay vendors for reaching big cost savings or improvements in performance
Who would withhold housing for the poor? Walker:
Implement work requirements and drug testing for public housing programs.
I pity the corporate executive who loses their job. Walker wants them to "look" poor, by forcing them to sell their home and car:
Put asset limits on FoodShare and W-2 programs to exclude people with homes valued at more than $321,200 and personal vehicles worth more than $20,000.
And because the poor have extra money sitting around they don't need right away...
Create health savings accounts for Medicaid recipients.
A basic income should have been the next step in slowly reforming some of our social safety nets, but everyday Republicans are in power, new ideas like these are shelved for a 70-year-old agenda:
A basic income, a government-guaranteed paycheck that would allow people to buy food and housing. That would not only help the individuals but would help keep economic wheels spinning and generate tax revenues. Both Marxists and libertarians have proposed basic income schemes. Milton Friedman was an early proponent. 

A new NPR/Marist poll finds that 1 in 5 jobs in America is held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the American workforce ... without the constraints, or benefits, of full-time employment ... They must handle saving for retirement and their health insurance on their own.

The public safety net — the budgets for fire departments and social services — is already strained. 

In 2017, Finland introduced a type of universal basic income scheme ... with a single ($879) per month stipend, payable to all Finns, regardless of their income, tax-free.

Young people living for free with their parents might suddenly feel rather rich. And that would mean employers currently offering unpleasant jobs with low pay might need to increase their pay rates or go out of business. Basic income would give workers the freedom to not be forced into the jobs that no one wants — think about garbage collectors — or to let people grow richer by taking on those onerous tasks. It might force society to revalue unpleasant but necessary tasks, and reward them.