Thursday, October 25, 2012

PA Legislators send message to babies: Don't be born poor!

Pennsylvania's General Assembly brings the crazy this session! Wow.

A bipartisan group of State Representatives submitted House Bill 2719 to the Human Services Committee, presumably so they could serve newborn humans by punishing them for having parents who brought them into the world. Here are the relevant provisions.
  1. If you get pregnant while receiving TANF (f.k.a. welfare), your benefit does not go up.
    In determining the amount of assistance payments to a recipient family of benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program, the department shall revise the schedule of benefits to be paid to the recipient family by eliminating the increment in benefits under the program for which that family would otherwise be eligible as a result of the birth of a child conceived during the period in which the family is eligible for benefits under the TANF Program . . .
  2. Lest you think these legislators have no heart, they have included an exception for mothers who conceive as a result of rape. But Ladies, you better bring a copy of the police report!
     Elimination of benefits under subsection (d) shall not apply to any child conceived as a result of rape or incest if the department: (1) receives a non-notarized, signed statement from the pregnant woman stating that she was a victim of rape or incest, as the case may be, and that she reported the crime, including the identity of the offender, if known, to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction.
  3. Even if you are a child who has become pregnant as the result of incest, you still better bring papers. Yes, even if you are below the legal age of consent.
    In the case of incest where a pregnant minor is the victim, to the county child protective service agency and stating the name of the law enforcement agency or child protective service agency to which the report was made and the date such report was made.
Okay, PA. We get it. You really don't want to pay for poor women to have more children. But can we stop all the Reagan-era hyperventilation about "welfare queens" for five minutes and discuss the actual facts?

Welfare benefits that could support/"trap" a family in poverty disappeared when Bill Clinton was president, replaced by Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) which has a lifetime limit of five years and a work requirement of 30 hours per week.

The average benefit in Pennsylvania is $403 per month for a family of three, hardly enough to keep a family clothed and sheltered, even if they also receive food stamps.

Only 17% of Pennsylvania families with incomes below the poverty line actually receive any cash benefit under this program.

To be eligible for TANF in Pennsylvania, the total value of your assets other than your house must be less than $1,000.

I am so bloody tired of hearing about the "Culture of Dependence."  The American oil industry receives $7 billion in tax breaks per year. And we're teaching a new mother a lesson by withholding $50 from her newborn?

WTF?

Today's $5 goes to Pathways, PA, a charity that works with disadvantaged women and families to help them stay together and move toward self-sufficiency.

     
     
     
     

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