Paul Ryan Envisions New, State-Based Castigation Opportunities


Rep. Paul Ryan has released yet another “plan” to fix poverty and the Safety Net.  He’s release a new discussion draft, “Expanding Opportunity in America.” This latest draft proposes a new “pilot project” which he asserts will strengthen the safety net.  He also proposes a number of reforms to the EITC, education, criminal justice, and ‘regressive’ regulation.

Upon releasing the discussion draft, Chairman Ryan made the following statement:  “Hardworking taxpayers deserve a break in this country. Too many Americans are working harder and harder to get ahead, and yet they’re falling further and further behind. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, we can all agree: America deserves better.   “So with this discussion draft, I want to start a conversation. I want to talk about how we can expand opportunity in America. I don’t have all the answers; nobody does. But by working together, we can build a healthy economy and help working families get ahead.”

I can agree that we need much better than Rep. Ryan, who is now proposing state-led pilot programs.  Under his latest rendition, he proposes to consolidate funding for 11 federal programs, including food stamps, housing vouchers, heating aid, child-care assistance and welfare payments into an “opportunity” grant that would be managed at the state level by those opting into his grand experiment.  Participating states could then “experiment” with various methods for delivering services, as long as they meet certain standards defined by Rep. Ryan and his GOP cohorts.  Something tells me execution of this approach will go about as well as executions of death row prisoners have performed of late by Republican governors. As Rep. Ryan envisions our Safety Net should be handled, a “life plan” contract would be developed for each recipient by case managers working for non-profit or for-profit organizations.  I guess he’s proposing to get around “big government” by having private contractors administer any services to be received (the first step in siphoning off monies from those block granted funds, like Haliburton did in Iraq).  At a minimum, each “life plan” contract would be required to include, at a minimum:

  • A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
  • A timeline for meeting those benchmarks
  • Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
  • Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
  • Time limits for remaining on cash assistance
  • A commandment that to receive any benefits at all — “thou shalt work”

Holy crap!  The GOP may talk “small government” — but they certainly don’t walk that talk.  His grandiose plan is going to take some serious bureaucracy, albeit a huge state-level network of private contractors, to get that done.  Just think about it.  It’s like having to hire a whole bunch of parole officers, oops, I mean case managers, who would need to monitor things like parenting skills, substance abuse, finances, living situation, and relationships with friends and family members. Plus—they would need to have authority to castigate those whom might not be in conformance with their “life plan.”  What I see is “overseers” and shaming for the recipients, but I don’t see—is oversight for the castigators. I also don’t see assurances of consistency from state to state, or across audiences of recipients within a state. Ryan claims that states, being closest to the recipients of these programs really do know best what their citizens need.  Really?  Just like they really know who should vote and who shouldn’t?  How long before “Jim Crow-like” permutations begin spreading through the disparate “life plan” contracts being imposed on certain citizens based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, etc.?  How long would it take before governors like Sam Brownback of Kansas, or Rick Scott of Florida, or Pat McCrory of North Carolina can find ways to channel those grant dollars into the pockets of rich and powerful individuals and corporations across their states instead into programs helping the truly needy? Those funds they’ll be doling out are our Federal tax dollars that, as it is now, are disparately disbursed to States, with Red State taking a larger portion of that bucket of available dollars. If the GOP truly believes those programs should be State-based programs, owned and managed by the States, then they should have the intestinal fortitude to propose eliminating those programs entirely from the Federal budget and tell the States they’ll just need to increase their taxes to fund what they’re willing to provide. Modifying National programs which have been created over time to help those in need in such a way as to victimize and unjustly punish them for seeking help, is flatly contrary to our Nation’s established moral principles.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s well past time to end Mr. Ryan’s tenure as House Budget Committee Chairman.  I’ve had enough, thank you! Know Thine Enemy — Other References:

 

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