Arizonans not welcome.
Today the Arizona legislature did what no other state in the nation has been mean-spirited enough to do: they cut lifetime welfare benefits to one year for everyone—adults and
children, the physically and
mentally disabled. Most states
have a five-year limit, while thirteen others impose a two-year cutoff. Texas (of course) has a flexible limit that can be as short as one year, but even children are exempt in the Lone Star State. Not so for Arizona! We're Number 1!
As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state's federally funded welfare program when the budget year begins in July.
No doubt you'll continue to hear from the Cato Institute, Rush Limbaugh and other goonballs that lazy moochers sit at home because welfare pays more than work, but Arizona's payments were never generous to begin with, a whopping $275 per month for a two-person household. Now even that
will be gone in a couple months for thousands of people—and as many as 300,000 total if legislators follow through with all their planned cuts to welfare, Medicaid and ACA.
The far-right fundies, who absolutely control Arizona's legislature, made the usual unproven arguments before voting to cut vulnerable families off at the knees:
"I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don't ever let them face those consequences they can't get back on the path to rewards," Republican Sen. Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu City said during debate on the budget. "As a society we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them."
"... make poor decisions and then we reward them." Oh, you mean like we did for Wall Street banksters?
Head below the fold for more.
Sen. Ward is widely considered to be the frontrunner to challenge John McCain in the 2016 GOP Senate primary, so here's her chance to earn points with the fringiest fringe of the party, which is leading the challenge. She's on a roll, having traveled to Cliven Bundy's compound of crazy last year to get her picture taken with the criminal coot. Then last week she appeared at a "Liberty on Tap" event where Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes said Sen. McCain should be "hung by the neck until dead." Sen. Ward said nothing and the crowd cheered. (Ward still refuses to condemn Rhodes, who recently appeared with her at "Freedom Fest" in Kingman.)
So is it any surprise this cruel excuse for a human being is leading the charge to throw needy families off welfare? I guess when you begin by kicking 500,000 low-income people off Medicaid, with hopes of eliminating Obamacare for thousands more, curtailing welfare is just the next step toward making Arizona the Somalia of America.
"This is a very small investment, but it is critical to people who need it the most," [Dem. Rep. Andy] Sherwood said. "You're talking about desperate families, those who are unemployed and underemployed. Single mothers and parents with kids."
a "small investment," only $4 million, but it means so much to so many. Gov. Doug Ducey tried to explain
that the welfare cuts are necessary in order to protect K-12 and university funding. Bull! First of all, Ducey and the goobers at the legislature, with dark-money backing from the Koch brothers
, have already
decimated the education budget
, so that's a rubbish excuse. Second, welfare funding is a federal
block grant. It's a pass-through that's "revenue neutral" and shouldn't affect the state deficit at all. But Republicans want to steal
the welfare funds to cover deep cuts they made to children's services. Assholes!
Just as Gov. Ducey and his legislative lackeys used the state's deficit to justify their hatchet job on education, they're dishonestly using it as an excuse to reduce welfare benefits. Addressing the deficit is their reason for whacking the poor at every opportunity, such as restricting food stamp purchases or drug testing welfare recipients. For that program they projected savings of nearly $2 million a year, but since drug testing began in 2010, they've nabbed three people and saved a total of $4,000.
Yet Arizona Republicans have no problem with reducing corporate taxes, which increased the deficit $112 million—roughly 30 times more than the cost of the welfare benefits they're eliminating. Nor do they see anything wrong with building more private prisons while slashing education, welfare and other public services.
As they say, it's not a bug, it's a feature. Less money for education and social programs = more need for prisons. The Corrections Corporation of America, which donated more than $10,000 to Ducey's campaign, is standing by to help.