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They Want Biden to Negotiate with Extortionists

That’s not how the story is being reported, but it should be. From Dan Froomkin of Press Watch:

House Republicans are refusing to let the government keep paying its bills unless the Biden administration rolls back some of its signature achievements.

It’s a demand that neither the Senate nor Biden will ever agree to.

Raising the debt limit is a procedural move that allows the Treasury to make good on existing commitments. It’s not a budget bill.

But House Republicans appear to be ready to default on the debt if they don’t get their way. Such a default would be catastrophic for the U.S and world economies, and could permanently damage the dollar’s status as the de facto global currency.

Explaining it that way is simply good journalism.

But as usual, extremist Republicans have been enabled by media coverage that tries to split the difference, and treats what is essentially a hostage crisis created exclusively by one side as a normal, two-sided partisan squabble.

Indeed, our top political reporters now insist that the onus is on Biden to solve the problem.

Under the headline “Biden Faces His First Big Choice on Debt Limit,” New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley writes today that the issue “has put President Biden on the defensive, forcing him to confront a series of potentially painful choices at a perilous economic moment.”

Sure, Biden says he won’t negotiate, but “business groups, fiscal hawks and some congressional Democrats” want him to make a deal. So Biden, Tankersley writes, “faces a cascading set of decisions as the nation, which has already bumped up against its $31.4 trillion debt limit, barrels toward default.”

But the nation is not “barreling toward default,” nor is it “careening,” or even “drifting” there. It is being pushed there by Republicans.

Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein set off Internet pundits and the Post’s own readers over the weekend with his article headlined “Biden is running out of time to avoid calamitous debt ceiling outcomes.”

Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall tweeted: “Has there ever been a clearer example of the ‘[Republican Party] has trained us to take their legislative terrorism as a given’ mentality so clear in so much MSM [mainstream media] reporting?”

Post commenters put it so well:

This is a vapid article that begins with a false premise. Biden is not the one who needs to be doing something right now. That’s Congress. Also, none of Biden’s options to resolve the problem unilaterally are “running out.” They all are still available. Click bait that isn’t even good click bait.

Also:

Yes, I am sick and tired of articles that seem to absolve the Republicans of their own idiocy and then blame the Democrats for not protecting us from the harm caused by Republicans.

Both Tankersley and Stein know better. They are both highly competent at times. What pressure are they under to produce such garbage? Which editors is this coming from? It’s a mystery.

And it’s not just them. The notion that this is a problem that both sides needed to solve has been endemic to corporate political reporting for months now.

The Associated Press has consistently been advocating for some sort of compromise — in its news stories. Josh Boak wrote that, “staring down a fast-approaching deadline,” both sides “have to find some version of common ground.”

Washington Post reporter Michael Scherer glibly predicted (in January!) that “Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy, wary opponents, prepare to work together“.

Biden and McCarthy haven’t spoken about the debt ceiling once since then, with Biden continuing to insist on a clean debt-ceiling bill with no strings attached…..

A key distinction that gets conflated in much of the coverage is between raising the debt limit — a procedural issue — and passing a budget. Of course there will have to be negotiations about the next fiscal year’s budget – eventually, once the fractious Republicans have come up with their own proposal, which could be a long time.

If just one major news organization were willing to buck the trend and tell its audience  what is really going on, without the false equivalence, that might be enough. The others might follow.

But it’s not going to happen. Political reporters and editors love brinksmanship. They were fascinated by McCarthy’s months-long attempt to whip his fractious caucus into some sort of agreement, which finally resulted this week in passage of a bill by a 217 to 215 vote….

Journalists hailed it as a “major victory” for McCarthy. The AP’s Kevin Freking quoted McCarthy after the vote, without a rebuttal, saying of Biden “He either has to negotiate now or we’re the only ones that have raised the debt limit.”

All along, reporters have been casting McCarthy as an embattled protagonist, rather than the antagonist. One throughline has been that McCarthy had no choice but to bow to the far-right members of his caucus….

Under the headline “Staring Down a Debt Crisis, McCarthy Toils to Navigate [Republican] Divisions,” Jonathan Swan and Annie Karni wrote sympathetically about how McCarthy is surrounded by people he considers incompetent and “faces his most consequential test: reaching a deal with President Biden to avert a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt as soon as this summer.”

If holding the country hostage is a MAGA priority that McCarthy is only going along with grudgingly, then reporters should make that clear – and stop treating it like it’s normal.

It’s not only awful governance, it may also be unconstitutional, as Jamelle Bouie argued in his New York Times opinion column in January.  The 14th Amendment of the Constitution states that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned”….

Even the best stories about the [Republican] position understate the extent of the fraud.

Tankersley wrote last week that [their] bill “would only modestly change the nation’s debt trajectory. It also carries a second big objective that has little to do with debt: undercutting President Biden’s climate and clean energy agenda and increasing American production of fossil fuels.”

The lede should have been more direct. Something like: “Much of what McCarthy is now demanding in return for not tanking the economy has nothing to do with debt, it’s doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry.

I’ll end with what I wrote ten years ago (!) about the egregious press coverage of the then-ongoing shutdown caused by Republicans demanding that President Obama abandon Obamacare:

How can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

Unquote. From Merriam-Webster:

To extort is literally to wrench something out of someone. Extortion is a mainstay of organized crime. Just as the school bully extorts lunch money from the smaller kids in exchange for not beating them up, thugs extort “protection” money from business owners with threats of violence. But that’s only one kind of extortion; a mobster might extort favors from a politician with threats of revealing some dark secret, just as you might extort a favor from a brother or sister by promising not to tell on them.

Republicans threatening to create a financial crisis in order to force Democrats to meet their demands is also extortion. Journalists should say so.

As Long As You Live the Way They Want You To

The idea that the Republican Party is in favor of “small government” has never made sense. Consider the billions of dollars spent on our armed forces and the budgets of the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. Republicans have never claimed we spend too much on those parts of the federal government (at least until their cult leader became the target of criminal investigations). Consider Republican-backed government surveillance of the civil rights and anti-war movements. And massive subsidies toward favored industries, like oil and gas. Do Republican governors refuse to accept assistance from the federal government after natural disasters?

Two of the best political columnists working today recently wrote about the “small government” myth. First, from Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times:

In the conventional view, American politics is a contest between a party of “big” government and a party of “small” government.

You know the clichés. Democrats want a larger role for the state; Republicans want to “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

But a glance at the historical record shows that, at least in the postwar period, the size of government was never really the issue. A modern state needs a large, active government. The real political question revolves around the activity itself. It’s about both the scope of government — to whom and for what it should provide — and its reach. Will the state take a light touch, or will it intrude on and control the lives of its citizens?

… The Republican Party has a clear, well-articulated agenda. It just falls outside the usual categories. It’s not that today’s Republicans have a vision for “big” government or “small” government; it’s that Republicans have a vision for intrusive government, aimed at the most vulnerable people in our society.

Of course, the crown jewel of the Republican effort to build a more intrusive, domineering government is the set of laws passed to ban or sharply limit abortion, regulate gender expression and otherwise restrict bodily autonomy. These laws, by their very nature, create a web of state surveillance that brings the government into the most private reaches of an adult’s life, or a child’s.

From Paul Waldman of The Washington Post:

Let’s take one example that [congressional] Republicans are getting ready to propose: the imposition of “work requirements” for the tens of millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid for health insurance or food stamps to feed their families. If you’re looking for big government, work requirements are it.

The idea has intuitive appeal: It’s good for people to work, right? But in practice, requiring “work” means forcing people to continually document their work hours to the government. Imagine getting your boss to sign time sheets once a month to prove you were working, then uploading them to the state using a buggy website. Now, imagine you didn’t have a computer at home. And if you didn’t follow all the complicated instructions, you could lose health coverage, a constant threat keeping you up at night.

You might feel as though the government was looming awfully large in your life even as it was being stingy with benefits. Which is happening now around the country; just read this article about how Iowa is spending millions to create a new bureaucratic maze for food-stamp recipients to navigate. If they fail to jump over all the hurdles, they’ll lose their benefits.

That is how work requirements have always functioned: They’re a tool to kick lots of people off their health coverage or their food assistance…. They’re the opposite of small government; they create more bureaucracy as a means of making the lives of poor people, who have less of a voice to begin with, even more difficult.

Now, let’s consider some of the other things Republicans have been doing lately:

  • Making it illegal for women to get abortions in Republican-run states, including trying to ban minors from traveling to another state to get an abortion
  • Trying to stop women in every state from accessing medication abortions
  • Outlawing medical care for transgender youth that their parents want for them
  • Outlawing medical care for transgender adults
  • Banning drag performances
  • Banning websites Republican legislators don’t like
  • Banning books from schools and public libraries
  • Forbidding discussions of systemic racism in schools and universities
  • Banning diversity efforts in higher education
  • Attempting to make it illegal for fund managers to consider environmental, social and governance goals in some investment decisions
  • Making it unlawful for liberal cities in conservative states to pass their own laws according to their residents’ wishes
  • Going after individual companies that don’t toe the conservative line

… A party that actually believes in “limited government” doesn’t tell you what you can read, what you can say, what clothes you can wear or what medical care you can get.

There’s a good case to be made that the [Republican Party] never really favored limited government; it has always been an idea Republicans apply only to goals and purposes they don’t like in the first place, just as they only begin complaining about the deficit and debt when Democrats are in power….

Spending money isn’t the only thing that makes government “big”. Today’s Republicans have a vision of a government that provides fewer social services but is vastly more invasive in everyone’s lives. You can call it many things; just don’t be fooled into thinking it’s small.

Back to Mr. Bouie:

Not everyone is subject to the Republican vision of intrusive government. There are vanishingly few limits in most Republican-led states on the ability to buy, sell, own and carry firearms. And working on behalf of some employers and other business interests, Republicans in at least 11 states have taken steps to loosen limits on the ability of children to work in factories, meatpacking facilities and other such places.

When it comes to the demands of capital or the prerogatives of the “right” kind of Americans, Republicans believe, absolutely, in the light touch of a “small” government that stays out of the way. But when it comes to Americans deemed deviant for their poverty or their transgressions against a traditional code of patriarchal morality, Republicans believe, just as fervently, that the only answer is the heaviest and most meddlesome hand of the state.

This gets to one of the most important truths of political life. At times, the state will treat different groups in different ways. For those of us with more egalitarian sentiments, the goal is to make that treatment as fair and as equal as possible. For those whose sentiments run in the other direction, the task is to say who gets the worst and most degrading aspects of the state’s attention and who gets its [respect].

… There is limited government in these conservative states, as long as you live the way Republicans want you to live.

Back to the Jungle?

Maybe you had to read The Jungle in school. We did. Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel describes the dangerous lives of poor immigrants struggling to survive in Chicago. It evokes an era when the government mostly ignored abusive working conditions, including working conditions for children.

Today, some businesses are having trouble finding workers, because they don’t pay enough and/or the jobs stink. Republicans around the country have an idea: weaken child labor laws.

In 2023. From The New York Times:

In February, the Department of Labor announced that it had discovered 102 teenagers working in hazardous conditions for a company that cleans meatpacking equipment at factories around the country, a violation of federal standards. The minors, ages 13 to 17, were working with dangerous chemicals and cleaning brisket saws and head splitters; three of them suffered injuries, including one with caustic burns.

Ten of those children worked in Arkansas, including six at a factory owned by the state’s second-largest private employer, Tyson Foods. Rather than taking immediate action to tighten standards and prevent further exploitation of children, Arkansas went the opposite direction. Earlier this month, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Republican, signed legislation that would actually make it easier for companies to put children to work. The bill eliminated a requirement that children under 16 get a state work permit before being employed, a process that required them to verify their age and get the permission of a parent or guardian.

Arkansas is at the vanguard of a concerted effort by business lobbyists and Republican legislators to roll back federal and state regulations that have been in place for decades to protect children from abuse. Echoing that philosophy, bills are moving through at least nine other state legislatures that would expand work hours for children, lift restrictions on hazardous occupations, allow them to work in locations that serve alcohol, or lower the state minimum wage for minors. The Labor Department says there has been a 69 percent increase since 2018 in the illegal employment of children.

The response in these states is not to protect those children from exploitation, but instead to make it legal. Voters in these states may support deregulation, but they may not know that businesses can use these bills to work children harder, cut their wages and put them in danger….

Lawmakers in these states have been vigorously lobbied by industry groups who like the flexibility of teenage employees and say that more children are needed in the work force to make up for labor shortages. One of the principal lobbying organizations pushing these bills in several states is the National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative group that supports Republican candidates and has long opposed most forms of regulation, as well as the Affordable Care Act. It has issued news releases praising lawmakers for passing bills that let businesses hire more minors for longer hours, and taking credit for supporting these efforts….

Many child workers don’t have parents or guardians to look after their interests. In the cleaning company case, several of the child workers were unaccompanied minors who recently came over the southern border, according to their lawyers. Soon, they won’t even have the state to approve their employment or working conditions.

The target of these rollbacks is not after-school jobs at the corner hardware store; they will have a much bigger effect on a labor force that includes many unaccompanied migrant children who work long hours to make or package products sold by big companies like General Mills, J. Crew, Target, Whole Foods and PepsiCo. As a recent New York Times investigation documented, children are being widely employed across the country in exhausting and often dangerous jobs working for some of the biggest names in American retailing and manufacturing….

Many of the minors crossed unaccompanied from Latin American countries and may not know when their employment violates the law. A 13-year-old who was burned with caustic chemicals while working for Packers Sanitation Services in Nebraska told investigators the accident occurred during a shift that lasted from 11 p.m. to 5 or 7 a.m., a direct violation of multiple federal laws. The Labor Department imposed a $1.5 million fine on the cleaning company, which is owned by Blackstone, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

Despite the evidence that more children are being exploited and hurt in this way, state lawmakers are passing bills that defy the federal standards. They are inviting a court challenge, and, in effect, daring the Labor Department to come after them, knowing the department often lacks the manpower to prevent violations of federal law…..

One of the worst bills, introduced by Republicans in Iowa, would allow 14-year-olds to work in industrial freezers, meat coolers and industrial laundries, and 15-year-olds to lift heavy items onto shelves. It is backed by, among others, the independent business federation, the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group backed by Charles Koch, the industrialist who supported many national efforts to deregulate businesses.

If states will not perform a role that has been fundamental for a century — protecting workers from abuse — the federal government will have to increase its efforts to do so. After the Times investigation was published, the Biden administration announced a series of new efforts to crack down on illegal child labor, many of which hold promise as possible deterrents….

The administration lacks all the tools to do the job right, however. Because its budget has been held flat by Congress, the Wage and Hour Division lost 12 percent of its staff between 2010 and 2019, and Ms. Nanda’s office lost more than 100 lawyers, so the Labor Department doesn’t have enough investigators to effectively pursue illegal child labor practices. In addition, under current law, the maximum fine for a labor violation by a company is $15,138 per child — often little more than the cost of doing business for big companies.

Comprehensive immigration reform would be the best insurance that migrant children have the protections they need. If families can stay together, minors will be less vulnerable to abuse and better able to seek legal protection.

The administration has asked Congress for more enforcement money in its current budget, and for higher penalties. Neither request is likely to be granted, and immigration reform seems far in the distance.

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post discusses the immigration aspect of this story:

In the wake of shocking revelations about migrant kids working exploitative jobs linked to some of America’s biggest companies, Republicans and right-wing media figures have debuted a new claim: These horrors are the fault of President Biden’s “open border”.

The argument is deceptive and wrongheaded…. The right’s case is that Biden’s 2021 decision to allow unaccompanied migrant children to enter the country — reversing [the former president’s] policy — has led directly to those kids being exploited by unscrupulous employers….

But here the right’s argument veers into deception. For instance, [the] claim that Health and Human Services [HHS] doesn’t care that nearly 90,000 kids have been “lost” to “slavery” is wildly absurd….

HHS does a follow-up call to sponsors to check on kids, and in the past two years, 85,000 such calls went unanswered. But an HHS spokesperson says sponsors and kids are not required to answer checkup calls; we only know sponsors didn’t pick up the phone, nothing more. (Hundreds of thousands of minors have crossed the border, and HHS says 81 percent of follow-ups are answered, so unanswered calls are not representative of the situation.)

Nor is there any basis to conclude that those unreached kids correlate with those who end up in exploitative situations….

The alternative to admission is not letting these kids into the country at all. Many of the parents and relatives who make the wrenching decision to send them unaccompanied into this country do so while knowing their fate in the United States will be uncertain, and weigh this against what they deem the worse alternative: Keeping kids in horrible situations at home.

Republicans … want that worse option to be the only one available. They want a restoration of the [policy] that largely banned asylum seeking for children as well as adults.

If Republicans actually care about the plight of migrant children in the United States, they might argue that HHS must do more to track them with, say, more follow-up calls or visits. They might argue that the Labor Department — which recently expanded enforcement against child labor law violations — must crack down even harder. Those are reasonable grounds for pressuring the administration to do better.

But Republicans don’t make those arguments. After all, this would entail calling for government to function better at settling migrant kids and policing unscrupulous employers — not things Republicans want to see happen.

This gets to the core of the deeper differences between the left and right: Each side defines the underlying problem differently. Most liberals believe barring migrant kids from entering is far more cruel than admitting them, even if admission in some cases leads to bad outcomes. For liberals, the problem is that more must be done to assure humane settlement of kids and crack down on their exploiters.

To some of these Republicans, by contrast, the problem is that unaccompanied kids are allowed in to begin with. Admitting them and settling them more humanely isn’t a solution; “solving” the child labor problem must inherently entail shutting that migration down.

On one hand, Republicans are loosening child labor laws. On the other, they’re against letting unaccompanied minors into the country, supposedly to protect them from abusive working conditions. But those are the very conditions child labor laws address.

It’s Not the Same Old Gang

How long will it take for Republicans to be reasonably sane again? Maybe never. From Sarah Longwell for The Bulwark:

There are events so epochal that they create clear periods of before and after: Hiroshima; the fall of the Berlin Wall; 9/11. Eight years after he declared his intention to run for president, it’s now clear that we should consider Dxxxx Txxxx’s 2016 campaign not as part of America’s political continuum but as one of these temporal dividing lines.

In American politics, there were conventions and candidates that existed in 2015 Republican politics as the before times. 2015 B.T.. Before Txxxx.

Before the escalator and “grab ’em by the p***y.” Before Muslim bans and a wall Mexico would never pay for. Before we’d heard of Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Lauren Boebert, or the QAnon shaman. Before an American president sided with Vladimir Putin over his own government’s intelligence network. Before Dxxxx Txxxx became the first president to turn his back on the peaceful transfer of power.

This period has existed outside of nearly all established norms, yet many Americans seem to believe that it is an interregnum. An aberration. An accident of history that will undo itself—soon—as norms and the old equilibrium return.

I think this view misunderstands the true nature of what has happened to the Republican party because it does not see what has happened to Republican voters.

I’ve sat through hundreds of focus groups with Republican voters over the last four years and one thing is perfectly clear: The Republican party has been irretrievably altered and, as one voter put it succinctly, “We’re never going back.”

It’s easy to identify people who don’t realize the transformation undergone by GOP voters. Many of them, in fact, have been talking about running for president. Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pompeo—these are Before Txxxx (B.T.) politicians who don’t quite realize they’re living in an After Txxxx (A.T.) world.

Take Pence: the OG of B.T.. Voters tell me variously that the former vice president “became too entrenched in the establishment,” “alienated everyone,” “seems like a perfectly nice man, but [doesn’t] have a chance,” is “just a puppet,” and “doesn’t have a spine.”

As one voter put it, speaking for the group, a Pence presidency “would just be a return to pre-2016, which is what . . . the elite want. They want everything to go back to the way it was before Txxxx got elected. And that would be the wrong direction.”

Or Nikki Haley. The former South Carolina governor is currently running as far and fast as she can away from her signature accomplishment in office: taking down the Confederate flag after the massacre at a black church in Charleston in 2015. Instead, she’s reinvented herself as a hardline Txxxx devotee who loves to kick her enemies. But trying to sound Txxxxy doesn’t cover up the fact that she’s an avatar of the before times.

Haley is at 2 percent in the polls. Voters I talk to call her “a milquetoast Republican” and “a status quo politician, basically,” telling me “she’s just going to be a return to what everything was before 2016.”

Others say they “don’t think she’s anything different than the Republicans we’ve seen in the past. She’s just going to be more of the same cookie-cutter views.” And: “She would just be right back to the Paul Ryan, John Boehner kind of a thing. That’s a no-go for me.”

… If you forged your political identity pre-Txxxx, then you belong to a Republican establishment now loathed by a majority of the party’s primary voters. Even if you agree with Txxxx. Even if you worked for Txxxx. Even if you were on Txxxx’s ticket as his vice president.

Sure, you can still get applause on the think tank circuit, and donors will look at your candidacy hopefully, checkbooks out. But the actual voters live in a new world. You’re selling buggy whips to people who are buying cars.

Consider the case of Ron DeSantis. He is the only viable challenger to Txxxx at the moment. He has remade Florida in his image, becoming America’s premier culture warrior. He is notable primarily for:

  • Taking stands against vaccines
  • Hiring quack doctors for public health positions
  • Yelling at college kids
  • Demonizing gays and lesbians as pedophile groomers
  • Making it illegal to discuss race in schools
  • Attacking Disney’s corporate status because the company’s cartoons are too “woke”
  • Shipping refugees to Martha’s Vineyard

More than any other politician in America, DeSantis has labored to turn himself into a mini-Txxxx.

And what is DeSantis’s big weakness in his looming primary fight? It’s his B.T. political career.

Because before he became Txxxx’s handpicked governor, DeSantis was a normie mid-2010s Republican: … He was hawkish on Russia. He was a founding father of the House Freedom Caucus. And like all good Ryan-era conservatives, he wanted to privatize Social Security….

Txxxx is already trying to hang DeSantis with his B.T. record, attacking him as beholden to “Establishment RINO Advisors” and a “RINO in disguise!” who would gut Social Security and Medicare.

There are signs that these attacks are working….Voters I talked to recently say they’re “a little concerned” about DeSantis “because he’s still establishment,” and that “he seems like more of an open-borders, Paul Ryan kind of guy.” Others called him “more of a politician than Txxxx is” and said “he is very much one of those political, swampy guys.”

Words that stood out when we asked voters to describe DeSantis: “wishy-washy,” “a little shady,” and “not trustworthy.” One said, “I just don’t have a good feeling in my gut about him.”

… DeSantis realizes that his only chance to win the nomination is to convince voters that the optimistic, conservative B.T.-version of himself didn’t exist.

Yet whatever happens from here on out, I suspect that 2023 will be the year that puts to rest the view that the old days will return. By the time this campaign hits New Hampshire, everyone in America—even the conservative think tank donors—will understand that we aren’t living through an interregnum, but rather have passed into a new age….

Unquote.

Nobody knows if the Republican Party will ever go back to being reasonably sane. Losing elections by ever-increasing margins and/or older voters dying off might make it a relatively normal conservative political party again. Or it could get worse.

A more immediate question is: How long will it take for leading Democrats and the people in charge of corporate media to accept the fact that this is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan or even Dick Cheney?

Will it ever become obvious to everybody that the normal conventions of political negotiation — like trusting the other side to play fair — and journalism — like trying to achieve balance in your reporting — don’t apply when you’re dealing with people this radical, extreme, crazy, authoritarian and <insert your own adjectives here>?

The True Nature of America’s Welfare State

The New York Review of Books has an excellent article on poverty in America. It was written by a Princeton sociology professor. The subtitle is “The American government gives the most help to those who need it least. This is the true nature of our welfare state”. Here’s a summary:

  • The federal government did a great job reducing poverty during the pandemic. Child poverty was cut in half. But that assistance was mainly temporary.
  • The usual critics complained that the extra financial assistance made people not want to work.
  • We’ve been trained since the earliest days of capitalism to see the poor as idle and unmotivated.
  • Most welfare recipients are white and don’t live in big cities.
  • Researchers have concluded that welfare doesn’t create dependency so much as it helps deal with temporary misfortune.
  • The biggest beneficiaries of federal aid are the affluent who take advantage of tax breaks, not the poor or unemployed. Tax breaks amount to twice the military budget.
  • We have chosen to subsidize affluence rather than alleviate poverty. We make up stories about poor people’s dependence on the government, while wrongly claiming it would cost too much to deal with the problem.
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