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

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Thu Sep 24 09:43:31 PDT 1998

>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.

But it may well be annihilated in the next decade. What happens in the next recession when Christine Whitman's people get the idea that if they cut TANF funding in half all the poor unemployed single mothers with children will move to New York and be Pataki's problem? Or what happens when the governor of Mississippi calculates that using TANF money to buy people bus tickets to Chicago is a way to save money for the taxpayers of Mississippi?

I'm seriously scared. But I've always been scared. TANF was a bribe from Newt to the governors: I remove federal strings from how you spend your welfare money in the late 1990s so that you get to cut lots of ribbons, propose lots of innovative programs, and get a reputation as a can-do governor; and you don't squawk about what the path of TANF funding means for the amount of federal poor support in the decade of the 2000s.

The bribe worked--the governors supported TANF--because every governor in 1995 thought that they would either be retired or be a senator by 2000...

Brad DeLong

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