Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Universal Stimulus

Obama's Stimulus Pork Bill just passed the Senate. Washington Post reports:

Senators voted 61 to 37 to approve the massive bill, which the Congressional Budget Office now says would cost $838 billion over 10 years. Only three Republicans voted in favor of it. In the House, an $819 billion version of the package passed Jan. 28 with no Republican support.

The plan reverses Bill Clinton's only major domestic accomplishment - welfare reform - by removing the language restricting welfare benefits to a certain timetable. Opinion article in today's WSJ: The Return of Welfare as We Knew It.

Through a little noticed provision of the stimulus package that has passed the House of Representatives, the bill creates a fund for TANF [Temporary Assistance to Needy Families] that is open-ended -- the same way Medicare and Social Security are.

In the section of the House bill dealing with cash assistance to low-income families, the authors inserted the bombshell phrase: "such sums as are necessary." This is a profound departure from the current statutory scheme, despite the fact that, in this particular bill, state TANF spending would be capped. The "such sums" appropriation language is deliberately obscure. It is a camel's nose provision intended to reverse Clinton-era legislation and create a new template for future TANF reauthorizations.

UT Doug Ross for the graphic.

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