Stopping imaginary threats in their tracks

Stopping imaginary threats in their tracks
Stopping imaginary threats in their tracks
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With all the real-world challenges policymakers can and should be addressing, it’s always disappointing when they invest their energies on threats that don’t actually exist.

Some Republican lawmakers support denying funds to ACORN, which permanently closed its doors years ago. Others want to stop the scourge of imposing “Sharia law” on Americans, a threat that exists only in right-wing imaginations. Some even want to stop the “NAFTA Super Highway” that remains purely mythical.

And to follow up on an item from yesterday, Congress is taking a firm stand in support of welfare work requirements that no one is trying to undermine.

The House voted Wednesday to block the Obama administration’s attempt to waive a requirement that people must work or prepare for a job in order to receive federal welfare benefits. […]

Democrats defended the Obama administration’s policy by noting that HHS has said it would only let states waive the welfare-work rule if they can come up with a plan to boost the number of people moving from welfare to work by 20 percent.

“The President is not dropping welfare-work requirements, he’s allowing the states to experiment, and you’d think our Republican friends would be entirely in favor of letting governors experiment in getting people back to work fairly quickly,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said.

Yes, you might think that, but such an approach would be rational.

The final vote was 246 to 181 – 246 federal lawmakers voted for a measure to prevent a policy that doesn’t exist – and it fell largely along party lines. Three Republicans broke ranks and sided against the proposal, while 18 Democrats, presumably worried about ridiculous attack ads in 2014, voted with the majority.

Let’s not forget how we got to this point. A  bipartisan group of governors asked the Obama administration for some flexibility on the existing welfare law, transitioning beneficiaries from welfare to work. The White House agreed to give the states some leeway, so long as the work requirement wasn’t weakened. It inspired Mitt Romney and GOP leaders to make up a shameless lie, accusing President Obama of weakening welfare work requirements.

And now Republicans want to re-litigate that fight, for no particular reason, rather than doing real work on real issues.

There’s a reason Congress is wildly unpopular.