Although various social safety net programs in many states have been crowing that the shutdown could be disastrous and may force them to close their doors, it has now been reported that North Carolina’s TANF program is officially the first to go. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is the cash assistance arm of the country’s welfare programs and although it is run by the states, much of the funds come from the federal government.
For the more than 20,000 people receiving these benefits in North Carolina, they will continue getting whatever they are entitled to receive for the month of October, but the state will no longer be accepting new applications and no money will be issued in the month of November if the government shutdown continues. For these families the TANF program is a much needed lifeline that helps them to pay their bills and take care of their children, but if the shutdown continues that will become much harder for these families just as the holiday season kicks in to full gear.
According to a piece by ThinkProgress, TANF represents a .3% difference in the poverty rate of this country. For those looking at that number, one might think that .3% isn’t really a large amount; however, when considering the nearly 50 million people who are living in poverty, that .3% actually means the difference between having or not having enough to get by on for around 150,000 men, women, and children. So while the seemingly heartless Teapublicans say that this government shutdown is a good thing, or at least no big deal, there are literally thousands of families in North Carolina this week that are now adding on the stress of not knowing if they’ll be getting the assistance they need next month.
In addition to the direct effect that this will have on the families involved, it will also reverberate out to the communities around them since they spend that money on goods and services in their towns and the surrounding towns. Welfare haters seem to ignore that fact, are are completely ignorant of it. Either way, this is a major problem for the local economies. As reported in the Herald Online, the North Carolina TANF program cost $4.7 million dollars just in September of 2013.
That is $4.7 million dollars that could potentially not be spent on goods and services in North Carolina just from one safety net program because of the Teapublican orchestrated government shutdown. Now extrapolate that out over the entire country if this continues. Billions of dollars have already been lost from the economy because people like Ted Cruz want to throw a tantrum, but what gets lost in all of this is that these are people, human beings, who can’t get by without this help, but next month they may not have it.
h/t: Think Progress