Friday, August 10, 2012

Welfare Issue Is Mostly About What's Not Said

Today I saw another chart online that seemed to so obviously point out one issue or problem, me at least...just raised more questions.

The below chart published by The Weekly Standard purports to show how 100 million people living in the US now in some way rely on Federal "welfare" - broadly defined. And it shows how the numbers have ramped over the past 3.5 years (conveniently since Obama took office).

In parallel with this, one of the current "buzz debate" issues right now in the media is Mitt Romney's charge that Obama lifted requirements for Federal welfare recipients - such that all one needs to do is be poor and let the Federal money roll on in. No effort to find a job needed.

Both of these items center on welfare and the assertion that Obama is turning America into a bunch of people dependent on the government. That's the R message and I believe it's coordinated.

I also think it's total bullshit.

In fact, I think its such bullshit that I won't even argue with the number on the chart. Lets, for the sake of argument, just accept them as fact.

Having said that, there are big issues with what this chart and the underlying assertions made by Romney on Obama and welfare that are either misrepresented or conveniently omitted.

Lets start with the chart. OK, so more people in some way rely on the Federal government for some sort of "welfare." Why? Why would more people over the last four years need that? Is it some super secret plan enacted by a Communist-in-disguise (Obama) who wishes to make people dependent on the government because...????

OR, could it possibly be that since 2008 our economy has been in the royal shitter following 8-20 years of decay brought on by the prevalence of the conservative prescription for the economy (massive deregulation, massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, big cuts in education, etc.)? Could that be it? Could it be that those very things caused the economy to crash and stay in the ditch? Outsourcing of jobs, financial sector meltdown, housing market in free fall, companies refusing to innovate to create new jobs in preference for sitting on cash, escalating costs for education...these are the problems created.

And in the aftermath of all that, guess what? People are hurting and need assistance in some way? I'd say yes, that's a MUCH more likely and logical reason for the increase shown in that chart. But it's not brought up.

Also, the nifty little chart does not include "corporate welfare" - the subsidies and tax breaks given to companies. You upset that 1/3 of people have some sort of welfare? How about US corporations who benefit from billions in payments, subsidies and tax breaks. That's right. Our government gives private some estimates...$2 trillion annually. That's far, far, faaaaaaaaaaaaaar more than it gives out in traditional welfare. Where's the outrage on that?

And finally on the chart...what if there were no welfare programs? How would people be getting along? Sure, there'll always be some element of society who wants to bilk us for a welfare check, but you know...even you conservatives in your hearts...that your average everyday American has too much pride and ambition to do that because they just want to. So, what if there weren't the programs? How would the unemployed, sick, old or disabled express their displeasure? Might not be too pretty.

OK, the other "Obama loves welfare" issue is Mitt Romney's advertisement in which he claims that Obama eliminated for states...such that now all anyone has to do is literally sit around and get a government check. Sounds pretty bad, right? But of course there's more to the story...the part they fail to tell you.

Turns out that states (in particular GOP led Nevada and Utah) asked the Federal government to waive certain Federal requirements if states themselves would implement more aggressive incentives and goals to get people off welfare. Get that? Obama and his team are willing to honor states' request to help them strengthen their ability to get people off welfare. Not exactly what Mitt is saying is it? Story HERE.

Even Newt Gingrich sees that this is all a stretch. And hey, if a guy as right wing and partisan as Newt can see it that plainly, well, you gotta realize Romney has gone far beyond playing fast and loose with the truth into pure fabrication (aka "lying").

This thing is SO Mitt Romney: sseize on some isolated element of something Obama said or did, take it out of context, tease out an angle that's really negative based on that snippet and then blow it up into issue. To some degree that's how political campaigns have operated for some time, but Romney is taking it to its extreme.

In the end, I think...through their desperate manipulation of facts and omission of vital information...these two "welfare" issues are desperate conservative attempt to sway undecided voters - in particular white males - with an issue they think will move them into their favor.

Last thought...I wonder how many people on welfare or assistance vote conservative?

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