This week the State of Arizona announced a one year, lifetime cap for welfare benefits. I’ve been listening to conservative talk radio commentators explain how this is necessary for our budget deficit. If you look at the program as a whole the cuts and the rationale make little sense. Welfare is comprised of four programs: housing assistance (section eight housing), health insurance (AHCCCS), Food Stamps (Snap), and cash assistance (because as Eminem pointed out, “food stamps don’t buy diapers”).
Let’s look at the numbers. The average cost of rent for section eight housing is 30% of a person’s income and the property owner is subsidized. AHCCCS is free and many people were referred to it by Healthcare.gov under the Obama-care law. The Food Stamp allowance is approximately $100 per person per month. The cash assistance varies and is paid based on number of dependents for things like child care and things Food Stamps don’t pay for (source Google.)
Let’s do the math; if the minimum wage worker makes $7.25 an hour working 40 hours a week they would gross $15,080 a year. More than the poverty line minimum and they wouldn’t even qualify for benefits if they didn’t have children. Let’s just say they are a single mom, like the majority of welfare recipients. That is roughly $1,250.00 per month before taxes, about $1,060.00 after.
Let’s look at a budget:
That leaves $122 to pay doctor and prescription copays, buy school supplies, clothes, and put gas in your car. The people on welfare are not getting rich, they aren’t even surviving. The majority of these people are not wayward drug addicts, they are single moms and the millions of people that were laid off during the economic crisis of 2008. The people hit the hardest were 40 somethings who had been with companies for years making around $60K. Some of them were halfway or more to retirement. I know, because my first job out of college was to replace people that this happened to. These displaced people are now working for much less than they are worth because a lot of times they are lacking degrees, which are now needed to work in related industries.
The scary thing is that this was decided on by a republican governor in a republican state (not all too surprising) but the sad thing is he’s hurting his own party. It’s baffling that any welfare recipient would vote republican and essentially vote against their own interest. We’ll see the ramifications of this decision in the next election.