Commentary

The Democrats Are Pretending to Care About Welfare Reform

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It’s an election year, so Democrats in the State Legislature are again feigning support for welfare reform.

They’ve rolled a series of proposals that are eerily similar to recommendations that have been made by Republicans in the past.  Their welfare reform proposals include:

  • Prohibiting EBT cards from being used for things such as alcohol, bail, lottery tickets, tattoos, and firearms
  • Establishing a Citizen Oversight Board to monitor our welfare programs
  • Converting $5 million of cash assistance into payments for landlords
  • Customizing welfare programs to provide services such as job training or behavioral health care

But these proposals are nothing more than fluff designed to save face with voters in November. While these may sound like beneficial ideas, they appear to represent an expansion of many existing programs, and fail to cut spending.

It’s well known that Democrats have long opposed common-sense efforts to reign in wasteful welfare spending, and reform our welfare system.

Just last session, they opposed efforts to require photos on EBT cards, prevented Republicans from instating drug testing for welfare recipients, and voted down a bill that would have forced TANF recipients to apply for jobs and only use their benefits in Maine.

And they continue to ignore existing proposals and other efforts to reform our welfare system.

In fact, there is already an existing bill that addresses these issues, but it has sat dormant in the Legislative Council. Democrats are only bringing these proposals to the public eye now in order to earn some easy press coverage, and ensure their re-election.

And they’ve pulled stunts like this before.

Last year, Democratic House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe put forth a “welfare reform” bill that allegedly sought to bar EBT cards from being used to purchase lottery tickets, alcohol, or bail.

But this bill had no teeth, as the penalties it sought to instate were actually weaker than what was already in place. When Senate Republicans amended the bill, and put real penalties in place, Democrats had no interest in supporting it.

So don’t hold your breath on Democrats actually working to reform Maine’s welfare system, and ensuring your tax dollars are spent in a responsible manner.

About Patrick Marvin

Patrick Marvin is a former Policy Analyst for The Maine Heritage Policy Center. He holds a Masters Degree from the University of New Hampshire, and has an extensive background in analysis and research.

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