Wondering about the level of honest discourse to expect from leaders of the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives? Their first salvo does not bode well.
House Republicans announced earlier this week that they are targeting the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families emergency contingency fund (TANF ECF) for elimination.
Representative Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, explained that the program encourages states to increase their welfare caseloads “without requiring able-bodied individuals to work, get job training, or make other efforts to move off of taxpayer assistance.”
Price claimed that eliminating the program would save $25 billion over ten years.
Now the facts:
- The TANF ECF primarily funded jobs for the recently unemployed. For example, Illinois used over 90 percent of its TANF ECF allotment to provide 25,000 jobs through the Put Illinois to Work program.
- TANF recipients who did not participate in the Put Illinois to Work program still were subject to the TANF program’s work requirements, instituted as part of welfare reform 14 years ago. Representative Price was in office when the Bush Administration made TANF work requirements even more stringent in 2006.
- The $25 billion in savings claimed by the Republicans assumes that the program would be funded at the level of $2.5 billion for the next ten years. But the program expired on September 30th, so “eliminating” it would produce no savings at all.
- Furthermore, the longest extension considered before the program expired would have been for one year, not ten.
The bottom line: make-believe cuts to a program that has been wholly mischaracterized and no longer exists.