Skip to main content

The subject of poverty has once again (thankfully) made its way back into the national spotlight, as the nation commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of former president Lyndon Johnson's “War On Poverty.” Johnson and his administration were responsible for creating many critical social welfare initiatives that millions of Americans still rely upon today, including Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps. In typical fashion, politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle are lining up to name Johnson's mission a success or a failure, along with offering a variety of suggestions on how to ensure further victories in the years to come. During a speech on Wednesday at a high-profile “War On Poverty” anniversary party in DC, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida – better known as the King Of Cotton Mouth County – not only slammed Obama's (woefully inadequate) minimum wage increase proposal, but offered up a solution of his own that would have Johnson turning over in his grave.

“I am proposing that we turn over Washington’s anti-poverty programs and the trillions that are spent on them to the states. Our anti-poverty program should be replaced with a revenue-neutral flex fund. We would streamline most of our existing federal anti-poverty funding into a single agency. Then, each year, these flex funds would be transferred to the states so they can design and fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity. This worked in the 1990s with welfare reform.”
Did it, Mr. Rubio? Did it, really? It never ceases to amaze me how people can just get up on national television and lie with a straight face about issues like entitlement reform, issues that affect the lives of  millions. Let's take a look at the facts, shall we?

Clinton's welfare reform program was an abject failure, a political ploy put forward by centrist Democrats during his tenure to appease increasingly rabid Republican opposition to political bogeymen like Reagan's “welfare queens” and the “nanny state.” Democratic concessions in this arena culminated in the replacement of the Aid To Families With Dependent Children program (AFDC) with the far more conservative Temporary Assistance To Needy Families program (TANF). The shift left millions of  Americans in the lurch, drastically raising the poverty rate and condemning the poor to chew on their bootstraps.

So how does TANF work, you ask? The same way that Rubio's proposals for the rest of the safety net do: by handing the power to enact and fund social welfare programs over to individual states. While they must be allowed to exist, states for whom social welfare programs are ideological anathema have the ability to hamstring those programs not only in terms of funding, but in terms of access. The only people for whom TANF has been of any real benefit are those whose careers require them to call it a success...people just like Senator Marco Rubio.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! asked Peter Edelman, faculty director at the Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy at Georgetown University, about Rubio's proposal on Thursday, and he had this to say the about the whole thing:

“These are—turning it over to the states is a shopworn idea. It goes back decades. What it does is it leaves it to states like Mississippi and Texas and others that could care less. And [inaudible] of national standards like food stamps—are people hungrier in New York than they are in Mississippi? I don’t think so. And to say, "Well, the state will decide how hungry you are and how much we’ll pay," makes no sense.”
By making social welfare programs a “state's rights” issue, we allow far too much latitude for  localized prejudices to be institutionalized within them, to the detriment of those who need these programs the most. “State's rights” is the same principle that lies at the root of some of the most repugnant cause conservatives and Libertarians have championed: Jim Crow laws, marriage equality, abortion rights, and last year's gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court, just to name a few. As you can see, Rubio's proposal isn't the first occasion we've seen this canard trotted out, just one of the more politically expedient ones.

Originally posted to Randle Aubrey on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 02:39 PM PST.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and DKos Florida.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Rubio is trying to hone his... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randle Aubrey, OooSillyMe whistle chops.

    The positional whipsawing he's gone through in just the past few months (ironically) probably qualifies him for disability benefits.

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 03:21:15 PM PST

  •  would be nice.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randle Aubrey

    If it could be that easy. Nice for me because I don't live in a right wing state. Suffering the consequences from choices made by people in other states is something I don't like to think about.

  •  One Nation, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice FOR ALL.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 04:20:36 PM PST

  •  Isn't it past time for the Dems to award the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    coveted flip flop with bells on them award to Rubio?  

    Having sold out his own Latin heritage he now stands for nothing and for everything simultaneously.  What ever the heritage foundation or some other big wig gives him to read he obeys and reads it.  It doesn't seem to matter to him whether what he is parroting makes sense or not or whether it is consistent with what he said a month earlier.

    I really wonder if there is not some part of the Old White Boys network that is deliberate sabotaging him.

    It would be so easy from a national level Democratic candidate to pick him to bits with direct quotes of his own words.

  •  Rubio still hopes to get on the '16 ticket, (0+ / 0-)

    so he's jumping through hoops set up by the several right wings of the rethug party (most of which severed relations with reality long ago). He is making himself a buffoon.

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 04:15:12 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site