Evan Bayh co-sponsored a measure with Rick Santorum titled, the "Healthy Marriages and Responsible Fatherhood Act (S. 2830)" in September of last year.
Look, ma, bi-partisanship!
But what is this bill really all about?
S. 2830 would extend TANF for six months, through March 31, 2005. It would also authorize new marriage promotion and fatherhood programs with $300,000,000 per year in federal funding for two years as described below. To pay for the new funding, the bill would end the out-of-wedlock and high performance bonuses in the TANF program.
For those of you who may not know, TANF is Temproray Assistance for Needy Families, commonly referred to as "welfare." (You'll find background on TANF here.)
The "out-of-wedlock" and "high performance" bonuses were provisions of the original welfare reform bill (1996) that gave the top performing states bonuses based on a number of complicated criteria.
Okay, so how would the Bayh/Santorum bill re-distribute this money no longer going to needy families in these "bonus" states?
$100,000,000 per year for FY 05 and FY 06 for competitive grants to states
Permitted activities include training for individuals who conduct marriage promotion programs and case management for some service recipients in addition to the activities in previous bills, such as premarital skills training and divorce reduction programs. This program requires a 1:1 match of state funds. TANF funds may be used as the state match. The bill would allow states to subgrant funds to a fatherhood organization to carry out these activities.
$100,000,000 is also appropriated for FY 05 and FY 06 for research, demonstrations and technical assistance. Not less than 80% of the funds must be spent for specified marriage promotion activities.
A total of $100,000,000 per year would be appropriated for fatherhood programs for FY 05 and FY 06.
- $45,000,000 for grants to 20 states to conduct demonstration programs;
- $30,00,000 to eligible entities (local government, private agencies, community based organization or nonprofit, or Indian tribe) to conduct demonstration programs;
- $20,000,000 for block grants to states for media campaigns to promote responsible fatherhood. This appears to require a 1:1 match of "non-federal" funds, a requirement that could be met by cash or in-kind donations as well as state funds; and
- $5,000,000 for a national clearinghouse on fatherhood/national media campaign to promote responsible fatherhood.
In other words, money that was being distributed directly to low income families based on state-by-state criteria would now be diverted to "fatherhood" programs mandated by the federal government... This at a time when most states face critical shortfalls in their budgets and are cutting back on assistance to low income families.
The states losing their ability to allocate these scarce funds as they fit (primarily based on need) in favor of inane programs promoting "responsible fatherhood" is offensive. (But, for god's sake, don't distribute condoms -- and let's outlaw abortion while we're at it!)
To force states to spend money on "media campaigns to promote responsible fatherhood" (for example) at a time when low income moms and kids can't pay rent or buy groceries or get healthcare is obscene.
And it is particularly offensive to have Bayh co-sponsor such harmful legislation.
Evan Bayh wants to run for President in `08. Not only does he consistently badmouth fellow Dems as a sock-puppet for Al From and the DLC, he is co-sponsoring harmful legislation with perhaps the most despicable legislator in the Senate.
I am no fan of Evan Bayh... for good reason.
Let him run. He will suffer the ignoble fate as his DLC cohort, Joe Lieberman. A fate well-deserved.
UPDATE: Santorum notes in his press release that much of these funds formerly earmarked for low income families are now sent to “fath-based groups” to run programs promoting fatherhood and marriage.
Keep in mind that this bill was promoted in late September, and news reports yesterday cited the awarding of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts to faith-based groups in swing states shortly before the election.
[NEW]As noted in expo's post, below, the bill was withdrawn in favor of re-upping the standard TANF funding package. Thus, no funds were set aside for this program. Still, the link in expo's post includes references to "faith based" organizations that have reciebed TANF fundng for "fatherhood" programs, including one organization with direct links to "promise Keepers," a hard righ Chritian fundmanelaist organization with heavy ties to the Republican Party. The bill's intent was to give the federal government more power to determe how this $300 milllion in funds already in the program and porposed to be redirected to the fatherhood and marriage inititives would be spent, taking that authority away from states.
[Cross posted from liberal street fight]