She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.
This particular "welfare queen", a figment of Reagan's colorful imagination, was apparently based on one Linda Taylor, who was convicted in 1974 of using an alias to collect about eight thousand dollars in fraudulent payments.
But the myth of someone getting what they don't deserve persists. It's the same mindset that says it's better to disenfranchise millions than risk one person voting who shouldn't. It's the same mindset that says it's better to risk the lives of tens of thousands of women every year than to risk just one having a late-term abortion for a reason other than health. It's the same mindset that says it's better to let a million children go without health care than to risk just one getting Medicaid whose parents make one dollar over the limit. As the middle class gets screwed ever more, the clinging to the idea that the poor are somehow getting away with something persists.
When Newt Gingrich talks about Barack Obama being the food stamp president, he's hearkening back to Ronald Reagan's mythical welfare recipients who dine on foie gras and prime steaks and live in luxury apartment penthouses on the public dole. He probably never even saw the movie, but he's thinking of Mo'nique's devastating portrayal of just such a Republican stereotype in Precious. So I question whether ultimately, Mitt Romney's blithe dismissal of the poor yesterday is going to hurt him all that much with people who would vote for a quarter-billionaire in the first place.
I work in an industry that pays quite well, for those of us fortunate enough to still have jobs in an industry that's rapidly consolidating. Most of my colleagues have some sort of advanced degree, and most are fairly liberal, or at least tolerant of views regarded as liberal. And yet when people talk about public assistance, particularly those who came to the US from other countries, they have this idea that an average food stamp budget buys the same kinds and quantities of food that they purchase from their local Whole Foods; and that Section 8 housing features the requisite granite-and-stainless in safe suburban neighborhoods. The myth dies hard.
Last night Rachel Maddow showed just how Mitt Romney would "fix" the safety net, as he said after he got caught sounding like the preposterously, wealthy out-of-touch, craven panderer that he is:
And yet, the American public is curiously selective about who it regards as "deserving" and "getting something for nothing." Here are Lawrence O'Donnell and David Cay Johnston on how Mittens has been able to pass along $100 million of his money to his children without being subject to the limits for gift taxation that the rest of us are.
I guess if you're lucky enough to be born to a quarter-billionaire, you're entitled to money you didn't earn in a way that those who, due to lack of access to quality education, lack of nutrition, and lack of opportunity aren't.
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