WI Congressman-elect: Welfare Programs “Bribes” To “Not Work That Hard” (VIDEO)

Published On December 2, 2014 | By Bob Rowen |

The GOP continues its game of blame the victim, this time in the form of Tea Party extremist and Koch brothers beneficiary Glenn Grothman, calling programs aimed at helping low-income Americans “bribes” to “not work that hard.” Growthman is the Congressman-elect from that hotbed of Tea-Baggery, Wisconsin, who last year called Kwanzaa a “fake holiday.” His campaign portrayed him as extreme even among the extremists. At the top of his long list of things he is against is a government that helps those in need.

In an interview with Milwaukee TV station WISN, Grothman spoke of the potential for a single parent to get up to $35,000 in total benefits from the different programs saying,

“When you look at that amount of money, which is in essence a bribe not to work that hard or a bribe not to marry someone with a full-time job, people immediately realize you have a problem.” 

Grothman based that figure on a libertarian Cato Institute study calculating what a single mother of two might collect from seven different agencies from Welfare and Food Stamps to housing, medical, etc. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal organization has said that study is flawed.

“Cato wrongly assumes that a non-working family can count on TANF [welfare] and housing assistance,” CBPP wrote. “Cato also wrongly assumes that a family that leaves welfare for work does not receive Medicaid and SNAP [food stamps] and would lose housing assistance if the family had received it previously.”

In Grothman’s mind, that $35,000, (if qualifying for all seven programs simultaneously should actually prove possible) is enough to persuade people not to try to do better. Grothman clearly never tried to raise two kids on $35k a year.

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Grothman is more vocal than most, but hardly alone in labeling programs benefiting the poor as enabling a lazy lifestyle and perpetuating poverty. Painting recipients of government programs as unworthy was at the core of Romney’s 47% statement. By demonizing the poor and using them as scapegoats, they rallied support from the white working class voters who were largely responsible for the GOP wave in November’s election. When the Democrats defend the program, those voters see it as defending the laziness and that is where those votes are lost.

To defeat attacks from Tea Party budget slashers, Democrats will have to go on the offensive. Instead of campaigning for the programs they need to campaign for their elimination, not through cuts, but by making them unnecessary. They need to hammer the point home that Congressional Republicans have yet to offer a proper jobs bill and not some deregulation or tax cut that does nothing to cut unemployment. They need to keep plugging bashing the GOP for their opposition to a raise in the minimum wage as well. Imagine how much those low-income programs could be cut if nobody had such a low-income in the first place. Then we can stop blaming poor people for being poor, because they won’t be.

Bob Rowen
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Bob Rowen

A lifelong politics junkie with particular interests in privatization and other business and labor issues like minimum wage and immigration.Robert Rowen is also a writer of fiction.His first novel is called The Ballad of Llewellynn.

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Bob Rowen
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