The parable of the frog in the cookpot comes to mind. When first popped into the water, the water was at room temperature. But that pot was on the stove! The burner was turned on, but very low. The frog comfortably floated, half asleep in the nice warm water, not noticing that his bath kept getting warmer – until the frog was poached for dinner never noticing as the waters around him got warmer and warmer.
Welfare reform has been like the frog bath, just as the tax cut frenzy has been leaving us all in the Land of Potholes and debt…
Between 1997 and 2007, as a percentage of income, the spending on lower-income families in Massachusetts declined by 1.3 billion, due to a slick but phony promise called “welfare reform”. Why do I call it a “phony promise”?
The promise was that cash grants to those in poverty would decrease, but spending on good services like first class early child care and access to education to raise the poor into the middle class would be funded by the all or at least most of money saved by welfare reform. This did NOT happen!
Rather than spending the money saved by slashing welfare rolls on education, child care, building affordable housing, or in any way building a better future – almost all of that money simply vanished into the general fund of was swallowed by unwise tax cuts. See: http://www.massbudget.org/Foll…
While a certain amount did go to increased child care, there remain waiting lists for child care needed by working class families who are eligible for that care of thousands of children in every age group. Similarly, the promised affordable housing did not get built.
To quote the study released on April 2, 2008 by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center:
As Table 1 shows, while spending on the cash grants measured in 2007 dollars, fell from $970 million in 1995 to $290 million in 2007, a drop of $680 million, spending on child care rose from $255 million to $510 million in 2007, an increase of $255 million. The increase in appropriations for child care programs accounts for less than half of the $680 million that Massachusetts saved as demand for cash grants fell.
Where did the money go? Well, again, the beneficiaries of tax cutting have been the top 1%. Remember, in 1980 the top 1% took home 8% – and today the top 1% takes home 23% of the whole pie. We only have one “pie” to cut up and share. If 1% gets 23% that only leaves 77% for the other 99% of us.
Welcome to the New Gilded Age – brought about by the Big Lie of the tax cutters who have poisoned public debate by demonizing government.
You and I do not have millions for public relations professionals. But we had best wake up and see the truth about the tax cutter’s selfish, deliberately misleading conspiracy of misinformation – or join the frog in his stove top bath.
Cross posted at One Massachusetts on “April 14, 2008 See http://onemassachusetts.org/