If nothing else angers you about the Walker agenda, this should. | WisCommunity

If nothing else angers you about the Walker agenda, this should.

... And it's all summed up in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline this morning: 

Elderly, disabled among those hit hardest by cut in food stamp benefits


When Wisconsin Republicans led by Gov. Scott Walker garblefarb their way through each new day, spreading disinformation and patting themselves on the backs for going after the state's middle class, almost everyone is distracted from even bigger Republican shame: They are busy unraveling the state's social safety net at warp speed.

As you'll discover reading the above Journal Sentinel piece, this particular problem didn't originate in the Badger state. Rather, it began in D.C., where congressional Republicans forced cuts in the federal Food Stamp program (known here as Foodshare). In particular, the Repubs targeted LIHEAP, a program that provides winter heating assistance in conjunction with food aid. Because, apparently, poor people simply get too much help, even in this state's execrable, increasingly low-wage economy.

Here's why the shame falls so heavily on Walker and state GOP lawmakers. Many states saw the folly of the cutbacks by Congress and how those cuts would cause misery among too many of their residents, so they took action at home to fix this latest assault on America's most vulnerable populations.

Only three states didn't fix the problem, all of them controlled by Republicans: New Jersey, Michigan and (you guessed it) Wisconsin. Here, Walker waved off any fix, saying it wasn't the governor's job. Instead, apparently, it's the governor's job to run around the country and beg for billionaire bucks to fund his presidential campaign, telling everyone how tough he's been on spending, and how tough on just about everyone who isn't in the topmost one percent.

Ironically, this is another case where Walker's nose grows longer. By appropriating a few million state dollars to assist in supporting the traditional program, he and the GOP Ledge could have collected hundreds of millions of federal aid dollars, which would not only help the at-risk citizens among us but also boost the state's economy. Unfortunately, the only federal dollars that Walker likes to grab, and in quantity, are those earmarked for building highways -- upon which we can figuratively lay out mile after mile of his victims.

And it gets worse. Because, meanwhile, Wisconsin Republicans have seen to it that the state's overall Foodshare rolls will decline by an expected 14,500 individuals starting April 1. Not because the economy is better or more people are finding work, but because changes to food assistance will limit applicants to no more than 90 days of help in any three-year period. Also, the state is turning management of the work program over to a private firm with questionable experience.

But, some might insist: Shouldn't the able-bodied people getting food aid have to work? Well, they already are required to hold down jobs in order to qualify. Thing is, the state's program spends tens of millions of dollars "helping" applicants find work, but failing the vast majority of the time.

"In 2011, FSET [the Food Stamp Employment and Training Program] cost $19 million to administer and had 6,021 participants statewide. Only 179 people got jobs," wrote Sherrie Tussler. She's the executive director of Milwaukee's non-profit, Hunger Task Force, which provides private food assistance to an ever-growing population of deserving poor. In her Journal Sentinel opinion column of March 12, Tussler laid out this parallel travesty. See http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/wisconsin-becoming-the-will-work-fo...  Tussler concluded:

How long can the line in front of the soup kitchen get before we run out of food? How long before the guy standing on the corner with the sign is someone you know?

The state has done a terrible job notifying people of this change. Here it is, Milwaukee, your two-week notice, a pink slip from the state whose new motto is you "will work for food."


March 16, 2015 - 10:51am