I was real tickled to see Tim Pawlenty on Jon Stewart this week, since it was only a few months ago that I wrote about him and his disconnect from the policy realities of the United States. Pawlenty is just one more ordinary person who has no talent for policymaking, managed to convince a lot of people he did, and now plans to spend the rest of his life making a great living off of it. This is what I’d written back in April:
“Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, said at a rally this week, ‘Wall Street gets a bailout, the poor get a handout and everybody else gets their wallets out.’ I wouldn’t want to be one of his state’s 62,000 welfare recipients in that crowd.
Pawlenty presides over one of the most wasteful and foolish welfare programs of all the states, and so does Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann from his same state. Minnesota bars kids from ever getting welfare after their parents are on for five years, and provides only $437 a month, usually less, to a family of three while subjecting parents to strict work requirements even when the state hasn’t enough jobs for those who have lost one (75,000 jobs lost in MN in 2009).
Pawlenty also put into place a “Family Cap” policy since 2003, which means that if you have a child while down and out, your welfare caseworker will “refer you to family planning,” (since you are already pregnant, “family planning” is code for referring you to get an abortion). And you thought all Republicans were anti-abortion?
The caseworker will give you not one more cent if you have the baby, as it would have before the Family Cap. Imagine, Pawlenty, Bachmann and others who whined about keeping abortion coverage out of health care legislation have no problem with a federal program referring poor women to abortion as a matter of policy. Sarah Palin, who has painted herself as anti-abortion, is silent on this matter. She appears to be as uninformed about welfare and women as she is about all other policy matters.
Dr. Deborah Frank of Boston has said of the Family Cap that the policy doesn’t save money but wastes it, because of the cost of the additional illnesses and hospitalizations of kids it denies cash assistance to. This is a mean policy. But being mean to children is common in TANF (welfare), the program that a politician (the late D. Moynihan) called “legislative child abuse.” 30 percent of Minnesota’s children are poor enough to qualify for welfare.
So Pawlenty, with his comment about the poor getting handouts, wasn’t being very accurate: Minnesota specializes in making sure the poor get nothing, have to work for it, and get insulted at public rallies too.”