Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Hostage Taking 101, Con't

Donald Trump made it clear again this week that he expects the people in the states who didn't vote for him to suffer catastrophic effects and that he refuses to help them in any way.

President Donald Trump says it would be unfair to Republicans if Congress passes coronavirus "bailouts" for states because he said the states that would benefit from that funding are run by Democrats. 
"I think Congress is inclined to do a lot of things but I don't think they're inclined to do bailouts. A bailout is different than, you know, reimbursing for the plague,” Trump told the New York Post in a sit-down interview in the Oval Office on Monday. 
The president continued, "It's not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help — they're run by Democrats in every case. Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic — very little debt."

The president named California, Illinois and New York as examples of states that are currently run by Democratic governors and are in "tremendous debt" because he said they "have been mismanaged over a long period of time." 
Democrats have made it clear that approving funding for states and municipalities is their top priority for the next piece of legislation
Maryland's GOP governor, Larry Hogan, who serves as the chairman of the National Governors Association, has also been urging Congress to send states financial aid. His own state is facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall this year. 
"To stabilize state budgets and to make sure states have the resources to battle the virus and provide the services the American people rely on, Congress must provide immediate fiscal assistance directly to all states," Hogan recently said in a statement. 
Hogan said that if Congress doesn't appropriate at least $500 billion specifically for states and territories to meet the budget shortfalls, "states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to critically important services all across this country."
Last week, Trump addressed the issue on Twitter, saying, "Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?" 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has suggested that instead of Congress sending aid to states, they should declare bankruptcy, a comment that has deeply angered Democrats.

Trump won't sign a bill that gives money to blue states, period.  If they suffer, why should he care? What is California going to do, not vote GOP?

Be more like red states.

Because red states are completely great with money.

The state of Mississippi allowed tens of millions of dollars in federal anti-poverty funds to be used in ways that did little or nothing to help the poor, with two nonprofit groups instead using the money on lobbyists, football tickets, religious concerts and fitness programs for state lawmakers, according to a scathing audit released on Monday.

According to the report, released by the state auditor’s office, the money also enriched celebrities with Mississippi ties, among them Brett Favre, a former N.F.L. quarterback whose Favre Enterprises was paid $1.1 million by a nonprofit group that received the welfare funds. The payments were for speaking engagements that Mr. Favre did not attend, the auditors said.

Other large sums went to a family of pro wrestlers whose flamboyant patriarch, Ted DiBiase, earned national fame performing as the “Million Dollar Man.” In a news conference on Monday, Shad White, the state auditor, said it was possible that many recipients of the money did not know it had come from the federal welfare program.

Mr. Favre could not be reached for comment Monday. Mr. DiBiase declined to comment.
Mr. White called the findings “the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers.” The audit found that more than $98 million from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, was funneled to the two Mississippi-based nonprofit groups over three years. About $94 million of that was “questioned” by state auditors, meaning the money was in all likelihood misspent or the auditors could not verify that it had been spent legally, Mr. White said.

The breadth of the audit — which auditors said included funds that were “misspent, converted to personal use, spent on family members and friends of staffers and grantees or wasted” — raises broad questions about the efficacy of America’s social safety net.

In 1996, the TANF program converted the old federal welfare system, in which cash benefits to poor families were deemed an entitlement, to a system of block grants issued to the states. The new program created work rules and time limits on aid — and, notably, gave each state much more leeway on how to spend the money. Critics say that states do not have to clearly justify that they are spending the money on helping the poor.
“There’s this incredible amount of flexibility,” said LaDonna Pavetti, vice president for family income support policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It could allow for a lot of things to happen.”

Mississippi Republican lawmakers concerned about the misuse of federal funds have enacted safeguards to prevent fraud by potential welfare recipients. A ThinkProgress article found that in 2016, only 167 of the 11,700 Mississippi families who applied for a TANF payment were approved.

For those who support anti-poverty initiatives, the unfolding scandal has left a particularly bitter taste. “It’s just, ‘How can you?’” said Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Monday’s audit comes after the arrest in February of John Davis, the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, the agency that distributes the federal welfare block grants. Mr. Davis is accused of taking part in a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme.

Trump's been a grifter all his life, maybe the most successful con artist in human history.  But the grift in the GOP has been there for decades, and it always comes at the expense of the people who can least afford it.

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