The Welfare Bogeyman rises again
Thursday, August 9, 2012
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, welfare became a wedge issue for both of the nation’s political parties, with Republicans decrying the “gimme” nature of programs while Democrats insisted it was a needed social safety net as the poor got left further and further behind.
When President Clinton
signed the welfare-to-work legislation that prodded recipients to find work by capping how long they could receive benefits, the temperature cranked down considerably with the occasional flare-up over eligibility and fraud.
But welfare and its recipients are once again becoming a focus of the 2012 election. Mitt Romney
has released ads and started attacking a decision by the Obama administration to allow waivers to states to create some flexibility in their welfare programs
. Romney and his Republican supporters, in what many say is a blatantly misleading attack, claim the waivers would gut the bipartisan effort of the Clinton years
and simply send checks to people without requiring them to work or even find gainful employment. (The Atlantic
has a somewhat different critique
of the welfare brouhaha: It stopped working.)
“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” the Romney ad states
. “They just send you your welfare check, and ‘welfare to work’ goes back to being plain old welfare.”
But as Ronald Reagan
once said, “Facts are stupid things.” Romney’s claim is coming under scrutiny by a wide spectrum of media
. Many are pointing out that the change actually is in response to requests from a number of governors
– both Republican and Democrat – to give them some leeway in shaping their programs in line with problems in their states. Robert Schlesinger
of US News & World Report says
just keeps making things up, with his welfare ad the latest example. In addition, President Obama
’s camp points out that, while governor of Massachusetts, Romney joined 28 other governors in seeking the exact same relief
But that hasn’t stopped Romney from making the claim his latest lead attack on the trail and the GOP chorus is singing the same tune. And he’s not the only one using the welfare card as a hammer. Scott Brown
is decrying a move by the state welfare department
to send voter registration forms to nearly half a million people on public assistance, charging that it is part of a bid to help his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren
. The Herald plays
this one exactly as expected
. David Bernstein decries
the junior senator, noting that the mailing is being done to settle charges that the state has long been ignoring a federal law to offer welfare recipients voter registrations, like the RMV does. And quite overlooked in the argument: Welfare recipients have not forfeited their right to vote.
In many ways, it’s a blast from the past, with images of welfare queens and Cadillacs with food stamps being used to buy cigarettes, tobacco, and Lottery tickets. It was a tried and true platform for conservatives 20 years ago, so why not bring it back? What better way to scare white middle class voters than to make them think they’re once again paying for others to suckle at the public teet that they’re paying for? Even if it is shown to be bogus? --JACK SULLIVAN BEACON HILL Gov. Deval Patrick
signs a $40 million spending measure while vetoing $3 million in initiatives, the State House News Service reports
(via Lowell Sun
). The vetoes included $1.5 million to renovate a Billerica
jail; Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian says
the construction will proceed, despite the veto.
The attorney general says the Salem School Department
failed to follow public bidding procedures from 2006 to 2010, the Salem News reports.Greg Bialecki
, the state’s secretary of economic development, authors a post
on the state’s effort to promote middle-skill job growth, especially in Gateway Cities
(he offers a shout-out to MassINC
for getting the state focused on these struggling communities), and engages with readers in a good exchange in the comments that follow.The Berkshire Eagle
argues that the state is right to expect public utilities to meet a certain response standard
when storms hit, especially as severe weather becomes more frequent.MUNICIPAL MATTERS
The Supreme Judicial Court
ruled the Bridgewater State University Foundation is exempt from property tax
that the town assessed even though the building the foundation owns is rented out at times.
The state inspector general
to put the management contract for a city-owned golf course out to bid, the Item reports.
The Boston Police Department plans to overhaul
its promotion system to address longstanding criticism of the lack of minority officers in its upper ranks. Meanwhile, The Bay State Banner argues
that there is “no evidence to support the allegation of racial discrimination at City Hall.”Mansfield
’s police chief blames an “alcohol-soaked” culture
for alcohol and drug overdoses that are blamed for two deaths and a number of hospitalizations among recent concertgoers at the Comcast Center
The state selects three finalists
in its bid to redevelop the Middlesex Jail in Cambridge
The Kraft Group eyes
building another hotel in Foxborough
. CASINOS George Carney
, owner of the Raynham dog track, is planning to bid for a slot license and is planning a hotel, movie theater, and bowling alley
on the land as well. He also told State House News Service
he would be willing to put up money toward a station stop at the track on the proposed South Coast commuter rail line.
The NCAA and the four professional sports leagues sue New Jersey to block it from bringing sports betting
to its casinos, Governing reports.
The New York Times paints a worrisome picture
of tribal gambling: Revenues have flattened, and tribes are worrying about new competition from state-sanctioned Internet gambling
. NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON
The top leadership of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure
organization is stepping down. The shakeup follows the organization’s decision earlier this year to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, the Associated Press reports
(via NECN).ELECTION 2012
The Wall Street Journal
editorial page agitates
in favor of naming Rep. Paul Ryan
Romney’s VP candidate. Romney rediscovers
the benefits of universal health care. New York
AG Eric Schneiderman
a number of Super PACs, including Karl Rove
’s Crossroads GPS
and the pro-Obama Priorities USA
. Rep. David Torrisi
of North Andover and his Democratic primary challenger, Diane DiZoglio
, hold a respectful debate, the Eagle-Tribune reports
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell
says he will fight potential fishing catch reductions
for next year, claiming the cuts could take as much as $75 million out of the city’s economy.BUSINESS/ECONOMY Foreclosure starts
in Massachusetts were up 19 percent in July compared to a year ago, WBUR reports
Some business owners have become skeptical about the gains from the sales tax holiday
as not as many consumers are turning out to take advantage of the event.
foray into electronics hardware flops
. HEALTH CARE
Gov. Deval Patrick
once again rejected legislation that would have required health insurers to directly pay out-of-network ambulance companies
rather than sending the money to consumers, who are then expected to pay the bill.
Massachusetts identifies its first confirmed case of Eastern equine encephalitis
, but the individual may have contracted it outside the state, NECN reports.ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission
freezes licensing of nuclear power plants until it can figure out what to do with spent fuel rods piling up at the facilities, Governing reports.
Struggling Waltham-based battery maker A123 Systems
may get a jumpstart from a $450 million investment from a Chinese conglomerate, the Globe reports
WBUR’s David Boer
whether US District Court Judge Richard Stearns
should step down in the Whitey Bulger
A Townsend man
registered as a Level 2 sex offender
is accused of soliciting sex from a 15-year-old in Indiana over the Internet, the Lowell Sun reports. Greater Boston takes a look at Lynn’s sex offender residency ordinance
that is being challenged by the ACLU
. CommonWealth wrote about the ordinance
in our most recent issue.An investigative report into bid improprieties
at the Fall River Housing Authority
has resulted in the suspension of two employees and a recommendation to suspend or disbar two companies that had been doing business with the agency.
Former Fall River city councilor Leo Pelletier will plead guilty to felony gambling charges
stemming from an illegal Internet cafe he owned that was shut down by the Attorney General.
A Plymouth man who said he works nights tried to get a construction crew to stop working outside his house
while he sleeps during the day. When they didn’t stop, he threatened to get his gun and kill them, including the detail officer who called in back-up to arrest the man.