Motives Followup

I wrote about motives a bit ago.  Here’s a followup on that.  From Fox News comes two items of interest.

First, the Department of Agriculture has been even more actively pushing its food stamps onto the non-needy than I had earlier written.  The Obama administration is trying harder and harder to pull Americans into government dependency, this time with a series of advertisements—paid for with your tax dollars—aimed at getting even those who don’t need food stamps to avail themselves of the “benefit.”  These advertisements are in the form of a 10-part miniseries called “Hope Park.”

The target of these vignettes is Diana, whose husband works (!) and who doesn’t think she needs the food stamps, as she notes in the 4th vignette:

I don’t need help from anyone.  My husband makes enough to take care of us.

By the last episode, though, Diana has been hooked, and she’s singing the praises of the stamps she didn’t need—but now needs badly.

As Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL) describes this program,

It has become increasingly clear that, in recent years, the mission of the food stamp program has been converted from targeted assistance for those in need into an aggressive drive to expand enrollment regardless of need. … Read as a whole, USDA’s activities suggest that the program administrators take personal offense when people who technically qualify for their largesse decline to accept—and see it as an obstacle to overcome.

The other item of interest is this.

The Department of Health and Human Services has chosen to waive the work requirement that is part of the eligibility requirement for the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and it carefully has done so without fanfare.  The directive through which HHS does this can be read here, and a copy can be read here.

Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate (presumably) Mitt Romney correctly noted

[T]he linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life.

But as Congressman Jim Jordan (R, OH) said,

President Obama just tore up a basic foundation of the welfare contract….

It’s true enough that the directive insists that

Waiver requests must include an evaluation plan.  …the preferred evaluation approach is a random assignment methodology, unless the Secretary determines that an alternative approach is more appropriate….


The Secretary will not approve a waiver for an initiative that appears substantially likely to reduce access to assistance or employment for needy families.

But notice carefully.  What constitutes adequate evaluation by the states is carefully left unspecified, except that if HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decides she doesn’t like a state’s evaluation methodology, she’s free to substitute her own, whose criteria also are carefully left unspecified.  Moreover, “substantially unlikely” to reduce access also is left to the unspecified whims of the Secretary.

There’s more in that last phrase, too.  “[A]ppears substantially likely to reduce access to assistance or employment” clearly means that access to assistance is to be maintained independently of access to employment.  The directive doesn’t require access to assistance and employment.

Without a work requirement as an eligibility criterion for TANF assistance, though, there is only eligibility for TANF dependency.

Again, I ask: what are we to make of the motives of government officials who do these things while knowing full well the outcomes of their actions?

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