Empathy and Compassion are dead in Missouri, killed off by the Senate of The Show Me State.
Yesterday the Missouri Senate voted to override a veto signed by Governor Jay Nixon (D). The veto override was on MO SB24, a bill which would drastically slash benefits under Missouri’s TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program. How drastically? The national average eligibility period for TANF benefits is five years: MO SB24 cuts this timeline for struggling Missourians to three years and nine months. What does this mean? The Missouri Social Services Department estimates that 3,155 families, including 6,400 children – and 2,600 children under the age of 5 – will lose their average monthly TANF benefit of $228.
Gov. Nixon certainly has his heart in the right place. He said of the veto:
“When it comes to adults, we can all agree on the need for personal responsibility,” Nixon said in a prepared statement accompanying the veto. But, he added, “I don’t sign bills that hurt kids — period.”
But that’s where any hint of empathy ends.
Why are we not looking at the hideous fact that 28,658 Missouri families do not even earn $292 per month – the requirement for a family of three to receive TANF benefits – and seeking to fix this?
Why are we not shocked and sickened by the creeping poverty that is causing this need?
Why are we not lauding the mission statement for Missouri TANF, which is found on their own website?
TANF was created to help families in need. The TANF bureau works with families to help them become self sufficient.
TANF’s program features include:
1. Assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes.
2. Preventative measures for out of wedlock pregnancy.
3. The encouragement of two parent families.
4. Reduction of the dependency of needy parents by assisting with job preparation.
I thought that self-sufficiency, preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancy and two-parent families were all bedrock conservative goals? If TANF is there to encourage these things, why cut it?
But no, it’s all about scapegoating.
Sponsoring Sen. David Sater said the changes would encourage low-income parents to find work.
“Right now, this program is actually causing more of a dependency on government,” said Sater, a Republican from Cassville. “I want to stop that; I want to see families on their own, self-sufficient.”
The legislation “is all about the principles our country was founded upon, hard work and personal responsibility,” said Sater.
Republican Rep. Diane Franklin of Camdenton, who handled the bill in the House, added: “These are all common sense reforms.”
Hungry children = common sense?
Blame the poor for their own condition, toot on the dog whistles (“personal responsibility”, “hard work” – or, even better – “dependence on government”), dehumanize the humans, slash programs to the point where they don’t work in order to prove that they don’t work. Don’t bother looking at the actual cause and effect, don’t bother addressing the systemic injustices. Slash and burn, and screw all the riff-raff.