Ted S. McGregor, Jr.
Mary Lou Reed
For Your Consideration
Bands to Watch
I Saw You - Cheers - Jeers
Journey to Wellness
Best Of 2013
Custom Blogs Search:
« Back to blog
at 04:00 PM on Tue, Nov. 30, 1999
Look How They Shine For You
Nice sound bite. "Washington is not Wisconsin". But what does it mean?
On February 1, 2011, the liberal and Democratic-controlled state of Washington joined the ranks of states cutting and hurting the very most vulnerable members of our society -- children. On short notice and on a day where the low temperature in Spokane was 10 degrees and the high 28, the state of Washington cut 5000 families with perhaps as many as 10,000 children off of cash public assistance. Perhaps as many as 450 of those families with upwards of 900 children (based on rough extrapolation of census data) live in the county surrounding Senator Brown´s legislative district. During the month of February, all but four nights registered temperatures below freezing, including the coldest late February cold front in nearly 20 years with temperatures in the single digits. These children were guilty of one sin -- belonging to families that had received TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) cash assistance for at least 5 years out of the last 14, the last 2 1/2 during the worst economic disaster in the last 70 years.
Let´s look at this situation. A woman was abused, abandoned and divorced in 1997 with two small children. She spent two years on TANF until she got a job --- though only earning minimum wage and got off TANF. She went to school at nights and got a better job (the motto of Washington state´s DSHS TANF WorkFirst program is "A job, a better job, a better life".) Then in 2003 she got very ill and was out of work for 8 months during which she was on TANF again, receiving for herself and her two children $546/mo plus food assistance. She continued to live a small apartment with her two children sharing a room together to keep rent low. Then when irresponsible conduct by bankers and realtors resulted in the explosion and collapse of the US economy in October 2008, she along with hundreds of thousands in Washington state lost her job. She like so many has not been able to find another job. To keep herself and her children alive, she again applied for and received TANF, though not happily and she continues to look for work aggressively. With barely 60 months on TANF, her TANF grant was abrubtly cut off for her and her children. At the moment she and her children were all very sick with the flu. They were unable to pay their rent and their landlord -- one of Spokane´s notorious slumlords -- did not care. So in the dark and cold of a bitter winter month, they were homeless, searching for scarce housing resources amidst a tattered and overwhelmed social safety net. The children were unable to attend school as they were sick and as she took them from place to place looking for help. Complete the story however you like.
The state of Washington did not have to cut these 5000 families with some 10,000 children off in the middle of the winter. The state of Washington chose to cut these families off in the middle of winter. The Democratic-controlled state of Washington chose to do this.
Senator Brown could have chosen -- at a minimum -- to take her "Bernie Sander´s moment" and laid out the situation of the country and Washington state in very dramatic fashion, publicly, in prime time, and in very clear, very explicit terms as Vermont´s Senator Bernie Sanders did in his 8 1/2 hour 12/10/2010 filibuster of the Senate tax-cut bill. She could have said, "I may not prevent these thousands of children from being put at risk in the dead of winter but I will expend part of the 18 years of political capital I have achieved thanks to the people of my district in Spokane which includes some of the poorest neighborhoods in the state. I am going to use some of that political capital and spell out why it is morally wrong and dangerous to cut these families off in the dead of winter, before we have cut our own salaries, before we have trimmed the ranks of management in state employment, before we not just thoroughly spelled out the tax loopholes benefiting corporate scofflaws to the detriment of our state budget and people but before we thoroughly expose those scofflaws, and before we have shut down facilities. While I do not intend to filibuster for 8 hours as did Sen. Bernie Sanders, I intend to point out emphatically that February 1st is not a humane day to leave children and families homeless in a snowy, northern state in a so-called civilized, so-called first world country and I refuse to be part of it. Even if in the end we must do it, we can do it in April or we can do it in June. But we are not going to do it in February without my open and vehement public opposition."
If Sen. Brown can get statewide press every year for her choice of a legislative theme song, she can certainly get press for standing up the most vulnerable among us.
That could have been her Bernie Sanders moment, our Lisa Brown moment. Or at least the moment for several thousand children in the dead of winter in a state that loves to shout "Kids come first" from every mountaintop. Some moments should be worth recognizing and seizing. This was one.
Washington state is not Wisconsin. Washington state is Washington state.
And on February 1, in the cold and dark of winter 2011, the callous hypocrisy of Washington state rang from the top every mountain: "In a state run by Democrats, today children came last."
Was in fact the message of the Democratic political establishment of Washington to say to the elites of the state and the not-so-liberal among its voters and the not-so-progressive forces within their own party as well as the right-wing, "See, don´t worry. In the end, we Democrats are willing to do what we have to and to show you here is your sacrificial lamb. Before we cut our own pay and take other measures, we will deliver these thousands of families with even more children to the streets of Washington in the frigid cold of winter. We too, along with our red budget cutting pen, carry a sharp paring knife and are willing to draw blood".
On February 1, 2011, the Democrats who control Washington State took their blood from Washington State´s most vulnerable -- its children.
Shame on them. Shame!
(Note: TANF was intended as a 5 year program when created under President Bill "End of welfare as we know it" Clinton. Each state had discretion to implement the program as it saw fit. Washington chose to extend families eligibility well beyond 60 months and then suddenly pulled the plug. The issue is the manner and timing of the elimination of these funds to already vulnerable families with children BEFORE cutting their own salaries and taking other measures congruent with their purported "progressive" values. Progressive they are not. Politicians they are.)
Mar 18, 2011 |
Reply to this comment
So any disagreement with any act, policy or statement of a union is an attack on the middle class? There´s no criticism that isn´t an endorsement of child labor and sweat shops? Perhaps Senator Brown studied labor history, but how about logic or any subject requiring critical thought?
Mar 19, 2011 |
Reply to this comment
Arts & Culture
Read the E-Paper
Advertise with Us
© Copyright 2012, INLANDER