Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., recently said the wrong kind of welfare can breed dependency, and liberals are beating up on him but good. They are saying that he is once again showing how conservatives do not care about the poor when in fact liberals are the ones who continuously assault them. They repeatedly practice cruelty in their politics, as many so obviously did with Aid to Families With Dependent Children.
This major federal welfare program was a mess, encouraging family dissolution as one way of devastating the disadvantaged, but a slew of liberals were up in arms when Democratic President Clinton joined with a Republican Congress in 1996 to reform it, adding work requirements among other changes.
Two members of the administration resigned as other liberals joined in arguing ferociously that the reform would throw a million children into poverty. Instead, as scholars of the subject observe, millions of children were lifted out of poverty along with poor single mothers who got jobs in record numbers and still received other subsidies as needed.
Leftist commentators are getting everything wrong about Ryan, pathetically calling him a racist because of a reference to the inner city and almost making it sound in some nearly dishonest diatribes as if he is against any public aid to the poor at all. They thus help fend off further welfare reform that could be among the best things that ever happened to America’s poor, which is hardly unusual for leftists forever wreaking havoc as they strut their moral superiority.
Maybe some of their intentions are indeed good, but they do not grasp the invisible-hand beneficence of free markets, they haven’t figured out that central planners don’t have the omniscience their task requires, and some of their intentions are not good. Take a hard look at elected officials on the left, keep in mind how re-election and popularity are their holy grails, and then contemplate the following:
• Demagogic, anti-capitalist, envy-mongering politics. Consider the Democratic chant that greedy, rich businesses are cheating workers and President Obama’s new move to expand overtime pay. Businesses are thus pushed against the wall and, as some astute critics note, there will be less overtime, there will be reductions in base pay, and there will be more automation replacing workers.
• Special-interest politics. Consider how Bill de Blasio, New York City’s new ultra-leftist mayor, is playing kissy-face with teachers unions that supported him by playing games with the future of non-unionized charter schools. These schools happen to be making a genuine, positive difference in the lives of needy minority children.
• Vote-buying politics. Consider Obama joining with congressional members of both parties aiming to win student loyalty at the polls through making student loans more attractive at lower interest rates even as they feed tuition inflation and leave college graduates with horrendous debts.
You get all of these ulterior motives rolled into one in Obamacare, which does a few worthy things that could have been done more simply and inexpensively, and does many unworthy, hurtful, overreaching things complexly and with massive cost. There’s a long, long list of liberal programs that contradict their stated purposes by their infamous actions, but let’s get back to welfare reform and Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee.
He has put together a massive report on federal welfare programs, showing how ineffective and wasteful many are. No one answer will fix all the problems, but a major answer is to emulate the reform of Aid to Families With Dependent Children, figuring out ways to help get people into jobs. Liberals somehow see it as a horrendous insult to suppose that giving people free things can make them dependent on getting free things. But people of common sense know it happens and always has, sometimes even happening to the children of the rich.
The compassionate thing in the case of the poor is to help them escape the trap, and someday maybe even leftists will catch on to that.