Real Welfare Reform

Paul Ryan says “People want able bodied people who are on welfare to go to work, they want us to get people out of poverty, into the workforce,” Ryan said in a Fox News interview late Wednesday. “That’s good for them, that’s good for the economy, that’s good for the federal budget.”

I think we all agree that no one likes a free-loader, but Ryan doesn’t want to accept responsibility for helping create a situation where 1/3 of the SNAP households are working, yet are not making enough to survive. For a party that used to talk about personal responsibility and accountability,  there is a total lack of accountability by Paul Ryan, Dennis Ross, and the extreme right for creating the conditions that cause our “safety net” programs to cover the gap for when corporations refuse to pay a living wage.

The all-out war on unions, collective-bargaining, and workers’ rights that started in the Reagan administration has been ramped up in recent years by Paul Ryan, Dennis Ross, and other millionaire politicians who love to blame the working poor for their plight. We have seen Ryan, Ross, et al., push through bills to limit the ability of unions to organize and expand, limit the ability for workers to force change through class action law suits, and to force workers to accept mediation when grievances are filed.

Since the early 1980’s wage growth for the bottom 25% of workers has been negative, losing ground every year, it has been flat for the next 50% of workers, and over 10% annually for the top 25% of workers. For 75% of working Americans, we work harder each year, but see no improvement in our standard of living. Still, Ryan, Ross, and other Tea Party extremists refuse to

  • act on increasing the minimum wage,
  • chose to roll back regulations that would prevent companies from making employees “salaried” to prevent paying overtime,
  • gave employers the ability to forgo overtime earnings with supposed promised time off in the future,
  •  created a tax system that makes it more  profitable for companies to buy back stocks and give huge executive salaries instead of encouraging  companies to share their record profits with employees or funding employee benefits.


Even before the great TAX GIVEAWAY this fall, Ryan, Ross, and company attacked and blamed the poor, yet remain silent about the Corporate Welfare they dole out at a rate 10 times higher than what goes to “safety net” and social programs. Their tax scam increases the wealth of large corporations and the top few per cent of Americans but does nothing to encourage job growth, job creation, wage reform, expansion of employee benefits,  or anything else that will significantly help 75% of the American workers.

For those who wonder why the general public flocked to non-traditional candidates like Trump and Sanders, or why there is increased racism and attacks on immigrants, it is because for almost 40 years working Americans have seen the fruits of their labor get redistributed to the few, the privileged, and the greedy. Good, hard-working people are humbled and humiliated as they have to turn toward government programs to put food on their tables. We are frustrated with the status-quo but are manipulated into blaming each other instead of voting for people who will actually fight for change.

If we want able-bodied people to go to work, then we need to create an environment where the government invests in infrastructure and renewable technologies that pay high wages and increase employment opportunities. We need to pass laws that protect workers’ rights and  make sure that those who work hard can eat and provide for the necessities of life.  We need to put earnings into the hands of the people who work, spend, invest, and create demand for goods and services (which by the way will increase corporate earnings and increase tax revenues needed to pay down the US debt).

Ryan, Ross, and their anti-worker allies love headline statements that sound good on the surface but exasperate the problems in this country instead of addressing them.  If there are too many people receiving government assistance, Ryan, Ross, and the Republican Party need to own up to creating the problems and either address the issues that cause these problems or retire and let serious Americans make the American Dream attainable for those get up and go to work every day.