I’m sure this was a problem that needed an immediate solution: The Kansas legislature sent a bill to Governor Sam Brownback’s desk that, among other things, would prohibit welfare recipients from spending their welfare money on cruise ships.
The bill would also limit individuals to no more than $25 per day, and prohibit recipients from spending the benefits on certain types of businesses, like liquor stores, fortune tellers, and swimming pools, in addition to cruise ships.
And yet, multi-billions are forked over without a single string attached to the wealthy in the form of tax breaks. This is money I have to pay for in my taxes; I want spending restrictions enforced on them, since they’re getting more of my money.
One of the idiot state representatives who apparently thinks welfare is enough to afford cruise ships, Michael O’Donnell (R), told the Topeka Capital-Journal that it was “about prosperity” and “having a great life.” He added that “”We’re trying to make sure those benefits are used the way they were intended.”
The law is more blatant mean-spiritedness directed at the poor people who dare raise their voice and ask for help:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, often known as “welfare,” is one of several federal programs administered by states at the ground level. The Kansas TANF program, known locally as the Successful Families Program, offers a family of three as much as $429 per month in cash benefits. Kansas is one of at least 37 states that distributes benefits on government-issued debit cards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Under the new rule, a three-person family receiving the maximum benefit would have to go to the ATM more than a dozen times to get the full benefit, which would be whittled away by an 85 cent fee for each withdrawal after the first one. And the local cruise liner ATM will no longer be an option.
The 1996 reform signed by Bill Clinton gave states plenty of room to torture the poor and helpless with their own unique and creative programs. Missouri, for instance, is considering a bill that’d ban people from using food stamps on steak or seafood, because you’re poor, you should be eating arsenic-laced gruel be thankful you have that.
The $25 daily limit in Kansas is unique to Kansas, however, and it’s something that’s taken national welfare advocates by surprise:
“This provision makes it nearly impossible for a recipient who does not have a checking account to pay rent,” Liz Schott of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in an email. “Moreover, it actually takes money from the pockets of poor families since they will need to pay 85 cents for each additional withdrawal after the first one in a month, and often more with ATM transaction fees.”
The provision originally would have limited daily benefits to $60, but state Sen. Caryn Tyson (R) reduced the amount through an amendment. Neither Tyson nor O’Donnell responded to interview requests from HuffPost.
If the goal was to reduce enrollment, congratulations, Brownback, you’ve done just that – and in the process, added to an already toxic experience that poor people live through. The number of Kansans receiving TANF assistance has declined significantly from 38,000 in 2011 to 15,000 in 2014. While the director for Kansas Action for Children, Shannon Costoradis, didn’t know if it would reduce enrollment further, she was pretty sure it wasn’t going to help people escape poverty.
My God; there aren’t words.