Being poor in America is an unforgivable crime that deserves no sympathy
When Congress reformed welfare in 1996, states were allowed almost total discretion over how to use federal funding for the poor. Clinton proudly declared that welfare as we knew it had ended. He was more right than anyone could have guessed.
They could demand welfare recipients find work before receiving cash assistance. They could also use their federal “block grants” to fund employment and parenting courses or to subsidize childcare.
Twenty-five years later, however, states are using this freedom to do nothing at all with large sums of the money.
According to recently released federal data, states are sitting on $5.2 billion in unspent funds from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF.
With all the poverty and suffering going on in this country, state governments would rather do NOTHING at all with a pile of money, than alleviate the suffering. Think about that.
How is that different from a hostile foreign nation or terrorist group?
But the real kicker is which states are the most guilty.
Nearly $700 million was added to the total during the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years, with Hawaii, Tennessee and Maine hoarding the most cash per person living at or below the federal poverty line.
Hawaii is one of the most liberal states in the nation. Maine is more conservative, but is leans Democrat.
That doesn't mean the Republican states are any better. They may be spending the money, but it's not on the poor.
In the state of Texas, there are almost 4 million poor people, by one recent count, but apparently few are penniless enough to meet the Lone Star State’s qualifications for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. To qualify for TANF in Texas, a single caretaker with two children must have less than $1,000 in assets and bring in less than $188 per month. For a person working full time, $188 a month amounts to an hourly wage of $1.18. Such stinginess helps explain why, according to a report Wednesday from ProPublica, Texas ended its 2020 fiscal year with $281 million in federal TANF funds unspent.
Texas, one of four states that denied at least 90 percent of its 2020 TANF applicants, had the lowest approval rate in the nation, approving only 7 percent. That means successfully applying for such welfare funds in Texas is as rare as successfully applying for admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Yale University.
...those states are choosing to dispense TANF on things other than on welfare: including child protective services, anti-abortion clinics, Christian summer camps and programs to help people addicted to gambling.
People with gambling addictions deserve help in Texas, but not people who can't feed themselves. How f*cked up is that?
It doesn't end there.
In an email responding to my questions about the ProPublica report, he wrote, “Alongside this $5.2 billion, there is over $40 billion in federal rental assistance that never reached renters in need. Pandemic unemployment insurance ended on Labor Day, and the last child tax credit payments went out before Christmas, with no additional relief in sight. Yet over $2 trillion has gone to the wealthy and $778 billion was approved for the Pentagon without any obstacles, obstruction, or delay.”
$40 Billion in federal renters assistance never spent by the states. Almost 90% of the funds allocated.
It appears obvious that the most unforgivable crime in America today is being poor.