Saturday, January 29, 2011

Balancing Budgets on the Backs of Poor Women and Chilldren

Every day, I check the child support enforcement website to see if maybe, just maybe, a payment has been made. I am like one of those button pushing monkeys who only get food occasionally instead of consistently. I push the button way more often than is needed in the hopes that today is the day. But alas. It rarely is. I got child support for about 8 weeks in the fall. That was the first time I'd seen any money since 2008. And in 2008 I got child support for about 6 months, which was the first time I'd seen any money since 2005. You get the picture.

When I logged in today I was greeted with a happy little message. "As of May 1, 2011, parents receiving TANF pass throughs will no longer receive them due to state budget constraints".

For those of you who don't know what this means, lemme explain. TANF (the portion of welfare that provides actual money instead of food stamps or medicaid) isn't free. Thanks to Bill Clinton and Welfare reform, TANF grants are supposed to be paid for by child support. If you aren't getting child support, but you are getting TANF, then you accrue a debt against the past due child support that gets paid to the state. If you are receiving TANF, as an incentive to get you to help track down non-paying parents, TANF will "pass through" a little of the child support money if you also start receiving child support. Not much, like $50 a month. But an extra $50 when your TANF grant is only $440 is a huge help.

In order to balance the budget, they are taking away $50 a month from poor parents and their kids. $50 that is supposed to pay for the health and welfare of those kids is instead going to pay for the state. I should also explain that Washington is one of those lovely, super-regressive all sales tax states, so poor people, even those on Welfare, are already paying a higher percentage of their income to fix the state's woes.

There is a whole shitload of talk about the kind of burden we are leaving our children, but I don't hear those same asshats talking about the kind of sacrifice we are making our children perform today.

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