Thursday, March 6, 2014

The War on The War on Poverty part 2

Here is part two of the report on the War on Poverty, according to Paul Ryan.  Wait, wasn't he married to 7 of 9 on Voyager?  Wasn't there some kind of sex scandal...  I forgot how good looking his ex-wife is.  Wait, wrong Ryan.  Damn all these Republicans act and look the same.
So, I made it through the summary of the report, and was less than impressed.  Honestly, they look at a problem, and try their best to muddy the waters.  So in part one of his report Cash Aid is discussed.  I am concerned that they have each section of the report listed as chapters.  So, Chapter 1, Cash Aid, number of programs 5, agencies 3: Social Security, DHHR, Department of Treasury, cost $220 billion (2012).

Now he isn't coming for the Social Security checks of the elderly, but I am sure he would love to.  What he is commenting on is the numbers of people who are on SSI, basically disability.  But, I just issued a misstatement.  Its not the disabled they are after.  Its all the single mothers out there, who collect SSI (Social Security Income).  But he tries to shift gears mid-thought, going from single mothers who get SSI to back up the other forms of income they receive to mothers with disabled children.  To which he is saying that some people deserve it, need it, warrant consideration for it, but.. Most don't?  He is saying that we cannot tell how severe a disability is for the majority of children.  The doctors are not being objective enough with evidence, and the gate keepers of Social Security are just letting them in. 

So after all is said and done, he thumps his chest and says, SSI reduces the labor supply.  If it were all that bad, people would be begging others to work, wages would rise, you know, how a truly free market works.  Supply and demand, I supply the labor that you (the owner) demand.  Hey, what is this fine print here.  Oh, I see it now, had to clean my glasses, but it says "SSI reduces the labor supply of likely SSI participants aged 62–64. A $100 increase in SSI benefits is associated with a 5 percent reduction in the employment rate."  So he is saying that SSI reduces the labor supply across the board while using a study from a decade ago, that only studied 62-64 year old people?  You know the ones that are ready to step into the golden years of eating Cat Food.

He further goes on to say that the children who receive SSI, have a disincentive to get an education or a job? 
"As child SSI recipients near the age of 18, parents and their children face incentives to maintain disabled status. At age 18, approximately two-thirds of beneficiaries remain on adult SSI benefits. For child recipients of SSI benefits who continued to receive benefits between the ages of 19 and 23:
o Fifty-seven percent were not enrolled in education programs, not receiving
vocational services, and not employed.
o Thirty-nine percent did not have a high-school diploma and were not currently
attending school.
o Only 22 percent were employed.
o Only 6 percent were enrolled in some form of postsecondary education.
o Only 13 percent ever participated in vocational rehabilitation services.
o Approximately 20 percent had been arrested.
If they are disabled to some extent, it is not likely they are going to find work.  If they are drugged out of their adolescent minds, they aren't going to be able to hold a job.  Trust me, I have seen the effects of medicated teenagers, just look at my roman nose, and you will too.  Children who are truly disabled, might not be able to attend school, and while it falls on the parents to try and educate these kids, lets get real.  If a teen is schizophrenic, they are not going to be able to go to school, or get a job.  Most adults barely function with the disease, and that is on a good day, when their medication is perfect.  I am focusing on mental disability, because what we are encountering in this period of time, is a long list of cognitive impairments.  I agree they should be educated to their full potential, so we can send them to Washington for our current representatives jobs.  Its not like they could do any worse than the GOP right now.  As for the 20% of people on SSI having been arrested, lets just look at this way, we have prisons full of the mentally ill.  Anyway, the total cost of this $50 billion dollars.

Next up on the hit parade, TANF.  Now I can't help but laugh at this.  Currently there are 1.9 million households using this program (out of 313 million people).  Ryan also claims that states which operate TANF are shifting people to SSI, just to get out of paying that dime.  I argue something entirely different.  What I surmise is actually happening with TANF is that as people go into this program, the service providers come to understand and realize that these people are disabled in some way or otherwise qualify, thus are qualified for SSI.  It has nothing to do with the states shirking their duty, its the states realizing how best to use social safety nets.  He also is kind enough to give us two studies of welfare reform, and both are older than 10 years old.  Sorry if this was college, you would need something newer to past muster.  So, the welfare reform act in the mid-90's created an environment where it was more advantageous to work.  I hate to break it to him, but it was more advantageous to work because there were more, better paying jobs in the late 90's and early 2000's.  Remember correlation is not causation, I wish I could plaster that on a sign, then tape it in front of Mr. Ryan's eyes.  The reforms did not cause fewer people to get on welfare because of an incentive to work.  The reforms were a piece of the puzzle that included an environment that had numerous jobs that paid a decent wage.  You then turn around and say that people who are working are less likely to need welfare.  Sure, I agree, when people are working a job or jobs that afford them the ability to pay the bills and eat, they don't really need welfare. Total cost of TANF 16.7 Billion a year.

So that leaves taxes.  Ironic given the month we are in, and taxes are coming due for most of us.  So in this section we have two types.  The first is the earned income tax credit.  It is considered to be a antipoverty measure, but I don't see it as such.  Its a credit at the end of the year on your taxes.  Money that is refunded to you, one time with your tax return.  Sure it looks good on paper, but the fact is, more comes with poverty than the sum total of ones income.  Certainly it plays a major role in it, but look at it this way.  For 30k a year, unmarried, without children I can live a more comfortable life than my peer who has one or more children.  Basically, it makes it slightly more worthwhile for someone with kids to work somewhere like McDonald's because they will get a yearly stimulus check.  The EITC does lower poverty rates, but only because it puts income outside of the threshold, not because it does anything at all.

The Child Tax Credit works the same way.  Up to 1000 per child.  Basically see the previous paragraph and insert CTC when it says EITC, and you will have my view on it. Finally we have Title IV-E.  This program helps house disadvantaged children by finding them temporary housing or permanent adoption.  Apparently this is one of he good programs according to Ryan.  Go figure.