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The Republican War on Welfare

ImageRepublican policies for welfare reform are based on myths rather than realities. They build off incorrect stereotypes of those on the receiving end of government aid. Because of the failure of such policies, 35 to 40 percent of those who get off welfare are likely to return to it.

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Why Welfare for the big corporations?

Remember welfare? The GOP certainly does. Judging by recent statements made by top Republicans, they sure seem to miss the issue, and luckily they've found a few talking points. While poll after poll has shown that the American public sympathizes with the poor, this tune drastically changes when it comes to using government policies to lift them out of poverty. This week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich decided to label President-elect Barack Obama's tax plan "welfare". The Republicans since the Reagan Era have waged war on those under welfare. Welfare queen, anyone?

The problem for the Republicans is that they already reformed welfare, thus losing a major political issue. It was such an easy sell and extremely rewarding at the polls. All they had to do was convince working- and middle-class families that while they were slaving away and paying taxes, there were shiftless minorities and poor whites having babies, using drugs, and watching television on their dime.

Welfare reform tends to consist of recycling the same set of measures that ultimately serves the interests of middle-class voters rather than meeting the needs of poor families. Subsequently, few of these programs have successfully targeted a reduction in poverty as their primary goal. Republican policies for welfare reform are based on myths rather than realities. They build off incorrect stereotypes of those on the receiving end of government aid. Because of the failure of such policies, 35 to 40 percent of those who get off welfare are likely to return to it.

These stereotypes captivate the American mind, and they are powerful, yet at the same time, they are based on half-truths. Welfare will not lift anyone out of poverty, and it certainly is not an excess in any way. So why is the Republican Party trying to have us run for cover every time the word is mentioned? More importantly, why do they have the audacity to label an Obama plan for tax credits as "welfare"?

During the 2008 campaign for the GOP nomination, the wolf in sheep's clothing came out again. Acting as if they were from Main Street, a majority of the candidates claimed that government social spending is flawed. Not surprisingly, they blamed unmarried couples for poverty and planned to make life better for America's 37 million poor through a combination of welfare cuts, lower taxes for the rich, and strong Christian family values. Redistributing the income is also a very unpatriotic thing according to the right wingers; after all, what's wrong with taxing the middle class into infinity and then bailing out the Wall Street billionaires with that same money?

Speaking of the bailout, wouldn't Newt Gingrich label that as "welfare" also? Wait a minute, Newt, what exactly are you doing that is as difficult as those who work two jobs to make ends meet and contribute to America that we shouldn't call your tax cut "welfare"? 

During the Reagan Era, Americans were drilled with the message that we must become "self-sufficient". As Governor of California, Reagan said, "Here in California, nearly a million children are growing up in the stultifying atmosphere of programs that reward people for not working, programs that separate families and doom these children to repeat the cycle in their own adulthood." Not working? Okay, got it. So why exactly did we reward the corporate friends of the Republican Party for not working with a 700-billion-dollar bailout? Now we have the welfare queens of Wall Street begging for another bailout while spending all our money at the country club.

About Huda Jawad

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  • Abbas

    Great perspective, heartfelt but also strong. I’m a sociology major at Wayne State and this has got to be one of the best pieces by a muslim on this topic.

    Nicely done.