Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN)
When Paul Ryan held his fifth hearing on the War on Poverty earlier this week, he finally allowed an actual poor person to speak. That's right, it only took him five times. Maybe that reluctance was because he knew his Republicans colleagues would make themselves look like the assholes they are. Tianna Gaines-Turner is a seasonal worker whose husband has a part-time job; they earn $10.88 and $8.50 an hour respectively and have three children with health problems. Enter Rep. Todd Rokita
He gave a “theoretical example” in which the government would increase spending on government programs like food stamps and welfare by 500 percent and asked, “They [people on the programs] would be out of poverty and that would be a good thing?” to which Gaines-Turner responded, “Yes, the programs work, yes it would be good to move them out of poverty.”
He followed up saying, “But the cycle of dependency would certainly still be there which you also don’t like… The cycle of dependency, you wouldn’t be independent.”
“I’m independent now on the program,” Gaines-Turner told him. “You’re independent on this?” Rokita asked.
“Yes, I consider myself to be very independent. I work just as hard as anybody in this room,” Gaines-Turner replied. “I’m very independent.”
“You’re independent, but you’re here testifying that you have to have these programs, you need these programs,” Rokita responded.
This is an adult woman who works, who cares for her children, who has fought through homelessness
and to find a safe home for her family, who finds a way to feed her family on a meager budget. She's forced to be independent in ways someone like Todd Rokita can't begin to understand.
Rokita also tried to get Gaines-Turner to say that she hasn't looked for year-round work because she just wants to sit home with the kids. Now, this is the most noble calling and hardest job ever when it's Ann Romney, remember, and Gaines-Turner and her husband have both missed a lot of work taking their children to the hospital. But in fact, Gaines-Turner has looked for a job that would pay more or offer more hours. The problem is, those jobs aren't just lying around for the taking. The number of unemployed people outstrips the number of available jobs in just about every industry, and overall, there are more than two job seekers for every available job according to the latest data. And of course the fastest-growing occupations pay poverty wages.
But in the utopia of Todd Rokita's mind, that jobs situation is unchanged while the aid that allows people to put food on the table and avoid homelessness is gone. If you're thinking "that's a dystopia, not a utopia," well, that's one of the things that separates you from House Republicans.