Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Give Tom a HAND UP

Today Tom Reed posted on Facebook: "We care about ensuring that every American has the opportunity to achieve their highest potential. That is why we are working to ensure that our neighbors - especially the working poor - have access to the resources they need to escape the cycle of poverty and climb the ladder of opportunity."

Image result for temporary assistance for needy families (tanf)He linked to this article in the Observer (out of Dunkirk, NY) which explains that Tom is about to introduce the HAND UP Act, or Help Americans in Need Develop their Ultimate Potential. The Act is a reiteration of the same one Tom proposed in the past two sessions of Congress. It's purpose very obscurely is: To authorize a State or a portion of a State to conduct a demonstration project designed to test methods of program integration and coordination of services with the goals of moving individuals and families towards self-sufficiency, reducing welfare dependence, and increasing work and earnings.

The Observer states:
"The proposal is designed to give states the flexibility to change how agencies administer social welfare programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help make sure more money gets to those who need it by reducing government overhead."
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The Salamanca Press has an extensive article about Reed, the ACA, Medicaid, and his new HAND UP Act. Essentially, Reed wants less oversight by the federal government, more freedom for local and state governments. Particularly when it comes to health care. He suggests that if the federal government gave out more block grants, which are large sums of money given without a specific designated use, then local governments could decide which welfare and health care programs they want to utilize.

Giving this HAND UP seems like a nice idea, presented in a stern, fatherly way. Tom says he wants to help the poor, to ease them off welfare and food stamps, and by golly get them to make something of themselves. Tom and other Republicans assume that poor people want to stay on welfare and keep getting those amazing, overly generous, completely reliable government checks. (Because we all know we could get rich off the government teat by simply getting welfare.)

Despite the realities of the poor person's lush lifestyle, the prospect of getting these block grants is what is most appealing to folks like Tom. Check out this chart as to how New York spent it's 2015 TANF block grants. Just as much of the money went to Administration and Systems, and Tax credits, as went to Basic Assistance and Work Activities. And don't miss the %13 that went to OTHER Spending.

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With little to no government oversight, state officials don't have to use that money for child care for working mothers, or work preparation programs for the young or new to the workforce, or to give more support to families who lose a job or face a death in the family. People like Tom can do whatever they please with the federal money, like fill in budget holes, or use that money instead of the money already in their accounts, or divert some of it to the pockets of Administrators. Without the earmark of actually taking care of the poor, the poor won't be taken care of.

Find out more about TANF block grants here.

Tom's press release from this year is pretty much the same wording as the last time Tom introduced this Act, which was almost exactly a year ago. You can find the Act, then called H.R.534, on Congress.gov, where it went nowhere. When Tom introduced the Act for the first time, it was H.R.4206 and it went nowhere also. Maybe third time's a charm.

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