NP and fusion again ( was Re: converts to the left)

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Thu Sep 24 08:07:06 PDT 1998

> . . . They're two branches of the Party of Wall Street, and they have
stuck it to the working folks of this country while ensuring that a tiny elite of greedhead rentiers make out like bandits. Among numerous other social, environmental and legislative crimes, Clinton annihilated AFDC benefits for kids -- children, goddamn it -- and has lowered capital gains taxes for punters, while continuing to piss $270 billion or so a year on a military fighting an enemy which doesn't even exist anymore. . . . >

A few comments on this folklore:

A new GAO report says states have reduced their AFDC/TANF spending by 15 to 20 percent. Note that this applies to their share of the total, which is roughly half. At the same time, outlays per beneficiary have increased because caseloads are down. Some of the drop is attributable to unfair removals from the rolls, but most to the current state of the economy. If poverty increases, without doubt states will spend more, though it probably won't be adequate.

Federal outlays, FY1992, Nominal $, Billions

Medicaid $ 67.8 Military 302.6 AFDC/Family Support 15.1

Federal outlays, FY1999

(Clinton budget)

Medicaid 107.7 Military 268.7 AFDC/TANF/Family Support 19.1

If prices between 1992 and 1999 changed 19 percent, the real change on the Federal side of AFDC/TANF is still positive-- about 7 percent. Medicaid has gone up significantly on both ends, as it had been doing through the dark ages of Reagan and Bush. Military has clearly gone down significantly in real terms -- about 25 percent -- though there is obviously much more room to cut.

While people noodle around with getting military down from 270 to 225B or so, over a trillion and a half dollars of surplus are projected over the decade. That's clearly where the big bucks are. Even a little more military pork would be a small price to pay for useful domestic initiatives.

While TANF is a royally-screwed up effort, to exaggerate the result, or to characterize Federal anti-poverty spending in general, as having been "annihiliated" is not serious. Worse, it lends unfair discredit to the efforts and achievements of U.S. liberalism, and this only encourages the substitution of desperation, fantasy, and alienation for politics.


"Facts are stupid things."

-- Ronald Reagan

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