"Marriage matters when it comes to reducing poverty and increasing opportunity," Jeb Bush says.
Jeb Bush has unveiled a new policy statement that would kill the top federal programs that provide food and financial support for some of the most-needy families – including children – in America. The Republican former Florida governor announced Friday that as president, he would eliminate the federal food stamps program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
Combined, these programs serve an estimated 50 million Americans with about $90 billion in support annually and are credited with literally helping to keep Americans alive, housed, clothed, and fed. If anything, we should be investing more dollars, not less, into these vital programs.
In 2015 overall, SNAP provided about 46 million people an average of $126.83 per month (yes, per month, not week).
In March of 2015, about three million children were the beneficiaries of TANF.
In short, Bush would literally take food out of children's mouths, and substitute those federal programs with ones that promote heterosexual marriage.
"Marriage matters when it comes to reducing poverty and increasing opportunity," Bush's new policy states. "Children raised in married, intact families do better than children raised in single parent families on a whole host of measures, including graduation rates, criminal justice involvement and earnings as adults. But too often in discussions of poverty, this vital issue is left out of the discussion. It won’t be in my administration."
An intact family is defined as "a nuclear family in which membership has remained constant, in the absence of divorce or other divisive factors," generally referring to biological, i.e., male and female parents who marry and raise children. Bush didn't need to include the "intact" distinction, but chose to.
"As president, I will join with other political leaders, educators and civic leaders to promote marriage as the most reliable route to family stability and resources," Bush continues.
Despite Jeb Bush's repeated claims that he is his own man and would not be the same president that his brother was, this new policy of promoting (heterosexual) marriage is exactly what President George W. Bush did, to the tune of $500 million, at minimum. And it failed.
A 2007 study concluded:
Government marriage promotion efforts emerged from and reinforce the work of rightist fatherhood groups and Christian Right organizations.
The arguments in favor of marriage and fatherhood promotion as a cure for poverty are ultimately ideological in nature. There is no solid evidence from the social sciences that marriage results in a higher income for poor women.
Government marriage promotion experiments are funded at the expense of proven poverty relief programs.
Government marriage promotion initiatives are intertwined with the dramatic erosion of Church/State separation under the Bush Administration's faith-based initiatives.
The arguments for government marriage promotion programs often reflect racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes, and the programs themselves disproportionately target communities of color - especially African Americans.
Bush also claims, wrongly, that the federal welfare system he would kill, "penalizes work, hurts families and creates countless opportunities for graft and abuse," and "trap families in perpetual poverty."
"In the place of these failed programs, states will be given Right to Rise Grants. These grants will allow states to meet the needs of poor families, in the way that makes most sense in each state."
Jon Green at AmericaBlog rightly notes that states would have the option to not set up these grant programs at all.
With SNAP and TANF dead, tens of millions of Americans, including children, would literally be left starving to death.
Green adds, "the poor won’t starve Bush argues, if only they get their sexual houses in order and shack up with the right people."
"Gutting one of the most successful anti-poverty programs we currently have and replacing it with Catholic social teaching is a nice effort, but it’s likely too little, too late to put him back in contention," Green concludes.
Bush, it should be noted, is the son and great-grandson U.S. presidents, comes from tremendous wealth, and has never displayed any understanding of what eliminating these programs would do.
A few months ago, his campaign flailing, Jeb! announced a rebranding and retooling initiative known as "Jeb Can Fix It." It failed.
For the sake of the lives and well-being of tens of millions of Americans, so should Jeb Bush's campaign for president.
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