The First Cut is the Deepest
May 26, 2010 · By Karen Dolan
The GOP has turned our budget, with its critical safety net programs, into American Idol.
House Republicans, led by Eric Cantor (VA), are channeling American Idol. They've started a program called "YouCut," an election-year gimmick where people can vote online for services they'd like to see cut from the budget. The winners would be pushed by the GOP for elimination.
Current issues on the virtual cutting block, for example, include the Byrd Honors Scholarships, a proposed federal employee pay raise, federal land purchases, and UNESCO.
But the first "winner"? Welfare.
In a blog post for CSRWire, I write:
House Republicans have chosen to make our tattered Social Safety Net into a game. Chock full of ideological misrepresentations, the site “You Cut” asks its followers to vote on which federal programs should get the ax in the federal budgetary funding process. Flaunted as the “First Winning Cut,” is $2.5 billion in proposed TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Emergency Fund money. Says the site: “This program was recently created to incentivize states to increase their welfare caseloads without requiring able-bodied adults to work, get job training, or otherwise prepare to move off of taxpayer assistance…
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities affirms that the TANF Emergency Fund does not in anyway incentivize an increase in caseloads nor undercut welfare reform, as the “You Cut” propaganda asserts. It explains, in a recent publication, that TANF recipients remain fully subject to all the stringent work requirements of the TANF program. One could argue that these requirements make no sense whatsoever during this time of high unemployment, but the TANF Emergency Fund does not alter this unfortunate reality.
Let’s work together with sensible policymakers to create, rather than further tatter, an effective safety net so that we may all weather the current economic storm and those to come. We can start by recognizing the need for continued funding of the TANF Emergency Fund.