If it's Saturday, you don't have to look very hard to find the talking heads over on Faux "news" attacking welfare recipients. That's exactly what the viewers were treated to on this weekend's Cashin' In, with regular guest Lisa Boothe chiming in with host Eric Bolling on how wonderful a new law that just passed in Kansas and that's being proposed in Missouri are, both of which are aimed at shaming those living in poverty.
Never mind the fact that most people using SNAP benefits or welfare benefits can't afford to buy most of the items these laws banned in the first place and aren't sitting on mounds of cash to waste, the yappers over on Fox are happy to continue to perpetuate the myth that abuse is somehow rampant and to paint anyone using them as some lazy moocher that just doesn't want to work for a living.
BOLLING: Waging war on welfare, fraud and abuse. Lawmakers in Kansas approving a bill that would put limits on what folks can buy with taxpayer cash. Tattoos, massages, you name it, basically all non-food items are off limits. It also limits ATM cash withdrawals to just $25 a day. Now Lisa, what do you think? All states should do this?
BOOTHE: 100 percent without a doubt. Look, taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for welfare recipients spending money on spa treatments and getting tattoos. Look, we should be giving people a hand up, not a handout, but that's not what we've been doing.
I think what we need to have is a broader assessment of welfare as a whole. Since Lyndon B. Johnson launched the war on poverty fifty years ago, we've spent almost $16 trillion building an entitlement nation. Look, we have over two hundred state and federal means tested programs spending about $1 trillion a year, but here's the kicker, the poverty rate hasn't changed.
Well, I think what we should be doing is reforming welfare as a whole. I think we need to take it, you know, Paul Ryan is a member of Congress who has introduced at least a plan to kind of roll in the federal government approach and empower states to spend money and kind of, you know, slow down some of these programs.
The bottom line here is these programs aren't working.
Her fellow wingnuts, Wayne Rogers and Jonathan Hoenig weren't much better, with Rogers babbling incoherently and Hoenig saying the only way to "reform" the programs was just to get rid of them completely, which is the same nonsense he's been echoing since Fox allowed him on the air.
The lone voice of reason was their token Fox "liberal" Juan Williams who talked about the price we pay to live in a civil society, the fact that those benefits are meager at best and that you can't just have people starving on the streets, and although he challenged the others, he still allowed most of the big lies told on the show go unchallenged.
First of all, the welfare system has gone through a series of "reforms" as Boothe is demanding, often with very dire results as we've already discussed here.
Here's more on Ryan's 2014 budget proposal that Boothe thinks is so wonderful:
And as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also reported, her claim that the programs haven't worked is a lie:
Long-Term Poverty Trends
Since non-cash and tax-based benefits constitute a much larger part of the safety net than 50 years ago, the official poverty measure’s exclusion of these benefits masks progress in reducing poverty. Trying to compare poverty in the 1960s to poverty today using the official measure yields misleading results; it implies that programs like SNAP, the EITC, and rental vouchers — all of which were either small in the 1960s or didn’t yet exist — have no effect in reducing poverty, which clearly is not the case.
While the federal government has only calculated the SPM back to 2009, Columbia University researchers have estimated the SPM back to 1967 and concluded that the safety net is responsible for a decline in the poverty rate from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012, based on an “anchored” version of the SPM that uses a poverty line tied to what American families spend on basic necessities today adjusted back for inflation (see Figure 6). Without government assistance, poverty would have increased during the same period under this measure, which indicates the strong and growing role of antipoverty policies. These findings underscore the importance of using the SPM, as opposed to the official poverty measure, when evaluating long-term trends in poverty.
Safety Net’s Anti-Poverty Effectiveness
The safety net as a whole cut poverty nearly in half in 2013, according to CBPP’s analysis of SPM data, lifting 39 million people above the poverty line and reducing the poverty rate from 28.1 percent to 15.5 percent (see Figure 7).
Of course what none of them want to talk about are the other items in that report linked above, which is the extreme concentration of wealth at the top and the record income disparity in America.
Widening Inequality Since the 1970s
Census family income data show that the era of shared prosperity ended in the 1970s and illustrate the divergence in income that has emerged since that time. CBO data allow us to look at what has happened to comprehensive income measures since 1979 — both before and after taxes — and offer a better view of what has happened at the top of the distribution.
As Figure 2 shows, from 1979 to 2007, just before the financial crisis and Great Recession, average income after taxes for the top 1 percent of the distribution quadrupled. The increases in the middle 60 percent and bottom 20 percent of the distribution were much smaller.
I don't think you'll see that chart or the one below on Fox any time soon. They'd prefer to sit around and kick the poor in the teeth.
Income Concentration Returned to 1920s Levels in the Past Decade
The Piketty-Saez data put the increasing concentration of income at the top of the distribution into a longer-term historical context. As Figure 3 shows, the share of before-tax income that the richest 1 percent of households receive has been rising since the late 1970s, and in the past decade has climbed to levels not seen since the 1920s. The vast majority of the increase is accounted for by the rising share of before-tax income going to the top 0.5 percent of households.