Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February, 2016, Part 2, Will The Center Hold: Praying In West Virginia and Common Sense Welrare Programs Clean-ups

We occasionally do a review of the theme, “will the center hold.” Given the ever growing reach and encroachment of the Federal government and Obama administration into state matters and citizens’ lives, we have often reported on the increasing push back against that overreach. From everything from Obama Care to Common Core to gun control to NSA spying, Americans are reasserting their right to tell the Federal government and Washington politicians that citizens in this country hold the power, not them.

Which has led us more than once to contemplate what would happen if Washington enacted a law or the President executed an executive order and the rest of the country simply ignored it? Would the center hold or would we be looking at serious fissures within the country?

For a few days let’s review where the rest of the country is telling Obama and the Washington political class to stop their power grab and overreaching into our lives: 

1) Most of the posts in this blog review the ineptness, the incompetence, and idiocy of the American political class. But that is not to mean that there are not a very small sample of politicians across the country that are trying to do the right thing for the country, its taxpayers, and the Constitution. They are actually using common sense and staying in integrity, traits that are in short supply with the overwhelming percentage of politicians.

But by using common sense, these good politicians are often fighting back against the overreaching and bad attitudes of the Federal government and the Obama administration. The first example of this behavior we will discuss today involves the state politicians in North Carolina who recently decided that if you are receiving taxpayer wealth via welfare payments, than you should have to pass a drug test to receive them. Because seriously, if most taxpayers have to take a drug test to get hired in many jobs, why shouldn’t those taking taxpayer wealth be subjected to the same requirement?

And if the taxpayers were no longer forced to support drug addicts, then eventually the hope would be that the tax burden on those taxpayers would eventually go down. Or those saved funds could be used to help the truly needy, our veterans, our homeless, our hungry.

The details of the North Carolina fraud crackdown include the following details:

  • The state has begun testing all individuals receiving welfare benefits.
  • While the initial results come from a small sample, 24% of the first batch of welfare recipients tested positive for illegal drugs, as reported by the Raleigh News and Observer.
  • 89 people were tested in the first batch and 21 were found to test positive for illegal drugs, and thus, 24%.
  • Some people who think that welfare users should not be drug tested will point to the small sample size and pooh pooh the results.
  • However, 70 welfare recipients never showed up for the test and thus, had their benefits cut. The obvious assumption is that a lot, if not all, of the 70 would have also tested positive for illegal drugs.
  • If all of the 70 welfare recipients were addicted to illegal drugs, than the total number of people that were supposed to be tested is 159 and 91 would have been drug addicts in the worst case, a percentage of 57%. Thus, the range of probable drug addicts that taxpayers were supporting ranges from 24% to a whopping 57%.
I am pretty sure that the Obama administration would be against this type of common sense approach to being compassionate and being worthy of safeguarding taxpayer wealth. In the past, the administration wanted there to be no restrictions, work or otherwise, on welfare recipients. North Carolina is telling the administration to back off when it comes to common sense approaches to welfare.

If the these early results hold true, than the state can reduce its welfare budget by upwards of 57%. Some of this money could be returned to taxpayers in the form of lower future taxes and some of it could be used to help those addicted to get treatment help. In either way, the North Carolina way certainly beats the Obama way.

2) A recent article by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, writing for the Heritage Foundation, described some actions Maine politicians have taken in the same vein as what they did in North Carolina. But before describing the incredible results these politicians attained in the area of saving taxpayer wealth, consider the following statistics:

  • Over one trillion dollars was spent on various forms of welfare last year including welfare payments for food, housing, medical care and social services.
  • This comes out to over $8,000 for every American household.
  • Federal food assistance is the country’s second biggest welfare program.
  • In the year 2000, 17.2 million Americans were receiving Federal food assistance.
  • In 2015, 45.8 million Americans were receiving Federal food assistance, two and a half times more in just 15 years.
  • The fastest category of people getting food assistance in recent years has been among able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs), going from 2 million in 2008 to 5 million today. These are work-capable adult between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have children or other dependents to support.
One reason for the incredible increase in ABAWDs getting food assistance is that the Obama administration did not require these types of people to actively look for work in order to get the welfare benefits. In light of this reality, Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, recently established work requirements on Maine welfare recipients who are without dependents and able-bodied. Alternatively, these people could also enroll in job training or do community service, a meager six hours per week.

Despite a major communications effort to ABAWDs in Maine, very few people enrolled in the training and community service programs. This resulted in those people losing access to their welfare benefits. And the drop in people receiving benefits was an amazing 80%. The number of people in the welfare program went from 13,332 to 2,678 in just four months. 80%.

Thus, now we have two states that are showing the Federal government how to stay compassionate for those less fortunate in our society but respecting taxpayer wealth by cracking down on the fraud within the welfare bureaucracy. And they are doing it in the face of a Presidential administration that would rather not clean up the mess they created in the welfare society of today. If this same effort and same results were done on the national level under Obama, the Heritage Foundation estimates that:

  • Annual taxpayer savings would be $8.4 billion a year.
  • Additional reforms of the food assistance bureaucracy would get another $9.7 billion in annual savings.
  • Combined, these savings would come out to over $150 for every U.S. household from just cleaning up a single Federal government program.
As we said before, a small percentage of American politicians are doing the right thing relative to common sense and taxpayer respect.

3) The American News website recently reported that Massachusetts also has gotten into the clean up welfare act. One driver of the effort is that the state found out that $2.39 million in welfare benefits went to people who had been dead between 6 and 27 months.

As a result, legislation is moving through the Massachusetts state legislature to require that fingerprinting be implemented in the welfare programs to ensure that those entitled to welfare, and only those entitled, receive those benefits. The legislation passed by a vote of 158-0 in the house and is waiting for approval in the state senate.

More common sense.

4) Let’s leave the world of cleaning up welfare programs that the Feds screwed up and talk about a state fighting back against the Federal government’s intrusion into the energy industry via Obama’s Clean Energy Plan. This plan wants to cripple the U.S. coal industry in the name of man made climate change that may or may not exist. And that crippling will have disastrous effects on the state of West Virginia.

West Virginia is one of more than two dozen states that are pushing back on the Clean Energy Plan through the court system. Those states recently won a Supreme Court round when the Court ruled that the plan could not go into effect until all legal challenges had been met, certainly a legal defeat for the Obama administration. But in West Virginia, they are also pursuing another avenue of push back against the Federal government.

West Virginia citizens got together and set aside January 31, 2016 as a day of prayer for coal miners. According to reporting by the Heritage Foundation, on that day: “A congregation of pastors, businessmen, and lawmakers will seek divine intervention in one of the nation’s hardest-hit coal economies. Doubtless, though, many will ask for deliverance from what they consider a man-made crisis.”

Roger Horton, president of Citizens For Coal: “West Virginia’s absolutely in dire straits. The point we’re trying to stress is that we need a higher power to change the hearts and minds of those who want to destroy Appalachia.” At least in this case, when the Federal government gets too intrusive and stupid these folks are calling on an even higher power to overcome the stupidity. 

Remember, the Obama administration is trying to kill the domestic coal industry at the same time that the rest of the world is on track to build 2,400 new coal fired power plants in the next few years. Thus, anything that Obama succeeds in doing to destroy the coal industry in this country will be dwarfed by the huge increase in coal burned around the world. Even John Kerry, the Secretary of State is on record saying that anything the U.S. does for the environment in this area will be nothing compared to what the rest of the world has planned. All it does is wipe out thousands and thousands of American jobs for no environmental gain.

And the folks of West Virginia are pushing back, both legally and religiously. 

That will do it for today's edition of “will the center hold.” West Virginia citizens uniting in more than one way to push back on the Federal government’s overreach on coal and at least three states telling Washington we will run common sense, efficient and compassionate welfare programs,unlike what the Washington political class does, and in the process save taxpayers loads of money.

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