Romney’s "war on welfare" |

Romney’s "war on welfare"

Felicia Muftic / My View
Grand County, CO Colorado

The GOP is upending the war on poverty and has declared war on welfare.

Mitt Romney heated it up by choosing for his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan who had authored a budget proposal to unravel much of the safety net. Romney then ran ads claiming President Obama was “dismantling” welfare reform by abandoning work requirements. For this, www. gave a rare “Pants on Fire” award to Mitt Romney, and said the Romney ad “distorts the facts.” A letter had been issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in response to two Republican governors wanting more flexibility for their state to administer the program. HHS allowed them to do so but they still had to meet and exceed the work criteria required in the original law.

What Romney/Ryan are gutting is not welfare reform, but welfare itself. An Urban Institute analysis of Ryan’s budget proposal found block grants would lead states to drop between 14 million and 27 million people from Medicaid by 2021 and cut reimbursements to health care providers by 31 percent. Up to 10 million people could lose nutrition assistance since $134 billion (including a 30 percent reduction of the food stamp program) would be cut from the program. At least 62 percent of Ryan’s $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over 10 years come from programs that serve the poor, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. All of this is in the name of lowering the deficit and offsetting tax breaks to the wealthy. The irony is that the Congressional Budget Office determined Ryan’s budget would increase the deficit, not decrease it.

Romney has reaffirmed he agrees with the Ryan budget. Remember when Romney said “I am not worried about the poor because they have a safety net” and “I have an absolute moral commitment to help every American help themselves?” In agreeing with Ryan, he OKs knocking holes the safety net and he does not seem to be worried. He is right about one point: Morality is an issue.

The Catholic bishops passed judgment on the Ryan budget. Wrote the Bishops, “… deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people. The proposed cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test.”

Some believe drastic cuts to the safety net are, to the contrary, a moral act because we are doing recipients a favor by keeping them from being dependent on government. So who are they doing such a favor? Mostly kids and the elderly. It is not the adults such policies impact the most. It is the kids who benefit from “welfare.” Three-quarters of food stamp recipients are families with children. Of the nutrition programs for the poor (8.7 million recipients), 4.3 million are women with children, 2.2 million with infants. National school lunch programs: 30.5 million kids benefit. Children’s health programs (CHIP) keep them healthy enough to go to school and Head Start gets them ready to enter first grade. Ryan would cut these programs deeply, guaranteeing they will not have good nutrition and early education needed, or to be prepared to qualify for jobs later

There are some practical considerations for those of us not on welfare. Coupled with Ryan/Romney’s pledge to kill Obamacare that would give 27 million affordable health insurance and Ryan’s cuts to Medicaid of 30 percent, a total of 41 to 60 million would be dumped on our emergency rooms for their health care. The hyper expense of ER medicine would be shifted onto the rest of us. Poor elderly who depend on Medicaid for nursing home care and Medicare supplement would be hardest hit, and their families, able or not, will feel the impact. For more, see and

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