Friday, April 17, 2015

Sam Brownback Likes Some Government Handouts And Hates Others

Don't you just adore governor Brownback?  He's such an extreme believer in his own little right-wing religious fundamentalist reality.  Even though it's Christianist, it's not very charitable.  Or rather, the charity goes to the haves and is removed from the have-nots.  I wonder what Jesus would say about that, hmh?

A few years ago Brownback cut taxes in Kansas something fierce.  Indeed, certain kinds of firms don't pay any tax on their profits!  That's giving the owners of those firms government handouts, in my divine and correct opinion.

But other types of handouts Brownback doesn't like.  His most recent move consists of making absolutely sure that welfare recipients don't spend that grudgingly-offered money on strippers or tattoos but on useful things such as baby diapers:

The measure bars spending relief funds on movies, at swimming pools, or on "cruise ships," as well as at any "jewelry store, tattoo parlor, massage parlor, body piercing parlor ... psychic or fortune telling business, bail bond company, video arcade ... or any retail establishment which provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers disrobe or perform in an unclothed state."

It also places a $25 daily limit on ATM withdrawals using the debit cards issued to recipients under the state/federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, which is what's left of America's welfare program. That renders the cards useless for major spending, such as paying the rent, but it does mean that users will pile up ATM fees at $1 per withdrawal, plus bank fees.

Note that there is no evidence Kansas welfare recipients are desperately trying to use their welfare checks in the manner described here.  I'd be pretty surprised if such misuse is at all common, given that most recipients are single mothers with young children.

The point of this bill, Brownback tells us, is to get people to go to work!  I haven't checked if Kansas funds daycare for single mothers on welfare so that they can go to work in one of the minimum wage jobs many of them would end up with.  But whatever.  At least they can't get tattoos and massages while taking cruises.

Emily Badger in Washington Post writes about all this with great lucidity.  She points out that the treatment of one group of handout recipients differs from the treatment of all other groups of handout recipients:  They are held to higher moral and ethical standards:

The second issue with these laws is a moral one: We rarely make similar demands of other recipients of government aid. We don't drug-test farmers who receive agriculture subsidies (lest they think about plowing while high!). We don't require Pell Grant recipients to prove that they're pursuing a degree that will get them a real job one day (sorry, no poetry!). We don't require wealthy families who cash in on the home mortgage interest deduction to prove that they don't use their homes as brothels (because surely someone out there does this). The strings that we attach to government aid are attached uniquely for the poor.

And that is because we don't view other forms of government transfers as undeserved handouts.

It's not necessarily bad to limit what welfare payments can be used for.  But when you combine this particular move with Brownback's earlier handouts to much wealthier groups of taxpayers you wonder what type of Jesus his reality has.  If this man is supposedly following in his footsteps.