Thursday, July 24, 2014

Last Call For The Ryan Plan 3.0

Not content with his goal to turn Medicare and Medicaid into block grants that states will then use for purposes other than healthcare, Rep. Paul Ryan now turns his austerity machine upon those awful poor people in an attempt to block grant them out of existence.

Ryan, known as the Republican Party’s budget guru and a former vice presidential nominee, argued that disparate federal aid programs should be consolidated into “Opportunity Grants” to states, which would have the freedom to experiment with more flexible programs administered by certified providers like non-profit or community groups. No state would be required to participate in the program, which Ryan says would be budget neutral. The Wisconsin lawmaker and possible 2016 presidential hopeful, laid out the plan in a USA Today op-ed Thursday. 
Ryan, whose previous budget plans have been excoriated by Democrats in national ad campaigns as heartless slashes to crucial safety net programs, tried to strike a compassionate tone in his remarks Thursday, saying that he’s visited poor communities during the last year seeking solutions. “When I went to Milwaukee or Denver or Indianapolis, nobody asked me what party I belonged to,” he said. “They welcomed anybody who was willing to listen and learn. That should be our approach in Washington.”

Let's take a look at Operation Opportunity Grants, shall we?

Here's how the program would work: Each state that wanted to participate would submit a plan to the federal government. That plan would lay out in detail the state's proposed alternative. If everything passed muster, the federal government would give the green light. And the state would get more flexibility to combine things such as food stamps, housing subsidies, child care assistance and cash welfare. This simpler Opportunity Grant would include the same money as current law. 
Plans would be approved on four conditions: The state would have to spend all funding on people in need. Second, the state would have to hold people accountable through work requirements and time limits for every able-bodied recipient just as there are for cash welfare today. 
Third, the state would have to offer at least two service providers. The state welfare agency couldn't be the only game in town. And fourth, the state would have to measure progress through a neutral third party to keep track of key metrics.

So privatize the system first of all, giving billions in dollars meant to help the needy to corporations whose goal is to wring as much profit out of this as possible.  And of course we would need to have multiple corporations doing this to encourage competition.  You know, just like your cable company.  And then we'd have to of course hire more corporations to make sure the other corporations are doing their jobs. Yeah, that'll solve the problem with inefficiency and fraud.

Second, let's make getting poverty programs even harder to get into than getting good-paying jobs that don't exist, and then slap arbitrary limits on these programs so that people will magically find jobs or face starvation, eviction, or worse.  Because misery and shame creates good workers and magically produces jobs, or something.

If approved, the state could use that money to expand state programs and to partner with local service providers. Families in need would have a choice. There wouldn't just be a state agency. Instead, they could choose from approved non-profits, for-profits or even community groups unique to their neighborhood. These groups could provide a more personalized form of aid through case management.

It's cute that Ryan thinks that state leaders, particularly in red states, will give block grant cash to non-profits instead of lining their pockets the same way they have by privatizing schools and prisons.

In short, we would re-conceive the federal government's role in the fight against poverty. Instead of trying to supplant local communities, the federal government would support them. Communities have to lead this effort, and Washington should follow.

In short, Republicans are going to raid and profitize welfare at the expense of taxpayers and the needy, won't it?  And the best part is red state governments will be able to throw as many ridiculous requirements as possible.  Nobody will meet the criteria to actually benefit from the programs, and the corporations will pocket the difference.

If you think about it, there's no other possible "poverty program reforms" that Ryan could have arrived at. The three basic tenets of Republicanism in 2014 are:

  1. The only person keeping you from being a millionaire is you.
  2. Taxation is theft, but shame costs nothing.
  3. If it will piss liberals off, we'll do it. 

Put those three together and poof!  Classic Paul Ryanism.

Oh, but it gets even more awesome with the integrated shame component:

The "discussion draft" submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to the House Budget Committee on potential solutions to poverty in America includes the proposal that low-income Americans would have to sign "contracts" in order to remain eligible for social safety net benefits, such as food stamps, or SNAP. The contract would include: benchmarks, such as finding a job, enrolling in employment training, or even meeting "new acquaintances outside circle of poverty"; a "timeline" in which individuals are contractually-obligated to meet those benchmarks; bonuses for meeting benchmarks early; and "sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract"

We're subjecting the poor to contracts and sanctions now.  That's compassionate conservatism from today's GOP!

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