ED caught this interesting new development in Minnesota:
St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.
Why don’t we just throw everyone who applies for public assistance into jail and get rid of the middleman?
Update: As commenters have pointed out, the bill basically limits the amount someone can withdraw or get as cash back to $20 per month. So this lede is a bit sensational.
Where have all the people who can see the big picture, who can employ objectivity, who can at least see multiple sides of an issue — where have all those people gone?
Do none of these clowns have consultants who can take a long view and tell their clients that a particular action might not go over well?
You just know if it passes that you are going to have O’Keefe or an O’Keefe wannabe setting people up by acting like good Samaritans willing to give someone down on their luck $21.
America, welcome to Dickensian hell.
There’s still the remains of a debtor’s prison on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Crank that bad boy up and we’re off to the races.
(Oops, races, sounds like “racist” looks like “racist”. Will I be sent to Coventry? Will Cole beat me, abuse me? Ooh, ooh, it hurts so good! I confess, I confess, I gave rice to the Viet Cong.)
Could someone please, please get Bachmann and Pawlenty on record over this disgusting, draconian proposal? They’re both ambitious enough to suck up to the crazies, but independents will see this issue quite differently.
Saw that. Dunno if BJ already covered it, but also saw this:
Wonder how many jobs it’ll create?
Seems like I missed an eventful day around here yesterday. But it’s late around my neck of the woods, so I’ll catch up tomorrow.
Mistermix, don’t be giving them ideas, they’ll get there themselves soon enough.
This story is exhibit A for the case that the U.S. is an empire in decline.
Ha! Those Republicans are really clueless. Almost everyone on public assistance uses the AMEX Black card. No one whose anyone uses cash anymore.
Republicans know that the founding fathers were opposed to debtor’s prison for one reason: because the poor should be starving in the streets and not at taxpayer expense, goddammit!
This is so crazy that I’d really like to see another source for it. All the links lead back to fight back news.
@Basilisc:As you said:
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
Does the GI Bill count as public assistance? ‘Cause I got PAID through that shit, son.
What about, oh, farm subsidies? Mortgage tax breaks? Anyone living in a state that receives more in federal outlays than it pays in taxes?
God damn, I hate these people.
I think they need to get the penal colonies (run by KBR/Halliburton of course) built first.
Similarly, Arizona legislators are surprised to learn their anti-immigration laws have hurt tourism:
Company stores too? When do they hire Pinkerton to shoot anyone protesters and strikers?
@Jude: I received Pell Grants, student loans at 1.5% and work study, as did a lot of people. When I pointed this out on a study group discussion board on Ruby Payne’s work last week, the response was about half and half. Half had the grace to realize they too, had been helped. The other half got huffy. You know, hard-working, good Murrkins should get help.
Now they just have to raise ATM fees even more.
Cuz, ya know if these leeches need cash they can just go to their bank or stop by an ATM and withdraw what they need right?
These asshole have no idea what it is like to be really poor in America. No credit card, no bank, no checking acct. I’d like to force them to live like that for a year.
When I worked for Social Services, I served on a statewide committee that was trying to work a deal where TANF recipients could receive their benefits on a debit card. We never got anywhere with it because none of the banks who had the infrastructure to provide the service would give an inch on end-user fees, that could take anywhere from 5 to 15% of a recipients cash benefits. End user fees on top of what they wanted to charge the state for the program, I might add.
Yeah, via Google I read a right wing site that quoted the actual bill. I haven’t taken time ti read the bill, but apparently the restriction is on the amount of cash that can be obtained from a state-issued debit card, not on the amount of cash people can have in their pockets.
If we get the facts of something like this wrong, we just give ammunition to people who want to dismiss very real threats to our society as leftwing hysteria. Let’s not be the liberal wing of the tea party; let’s save our outrage for things that are true.
If someone wants to read the bill and tell me that I’m wrong, please do. I’m a liberal; I can deal with the facts.
“To”, not “ti”. Why don’t I have permission to edit my own comment?
@greennotGreen: And how would the police know that the $20 someone had in their pocket was from their job rather than their welfare card?
@greennotGreen: I haven’t fact-checked your fact-checking, but I agree with you about the sensationalism generally. It’s the whole boy-who-cried-wolf problem.
<a href=https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bin/bldbill.php?bill=H0171.1.html&session=ls87Here’s the bill as amended on March 17.
The problem is how will the ATM or vender know how much you’ve already withdrawn? They’ll need special equipment to do that.
Here’s the bill. It has been slightly misrepresented. They don’t want poor folks using the public assistance card at an ATM. It doesn’t seem to criminalize cash in the pocket.
Bottom line is, American social and economic policy is working hard at the critical business of
raising the standard of living for all Americansestablishing the bare minimum that people will tolerate without going all Egypt in the streets. Wisconsin crossed the line. Since this bill only involves poor people, I expect it will pass quietly.
Here’s the actual bill.
I’m assuming that they want to prevent people withdrawing all the funds to buy cigarettes or weed or whatever. I don’t know enough about Minnesota public assistance law to say what programs it covers, so I can’t say how awful or stupid this is.
However, I do think that the 5% bonus to retailers that show any substantiated fraud is a terrible, terrible idea. You’re basically deputizing store clerks and giving supermarket managers a tempting revenue stream there. Supermarkets tend to have extremely thin profit margins; I’d be shocked if this bill (if it were enacted) didn’t lead to more specious fraud charges.
More like Exhibit ZZZZZZZZZ. This story has to take a place in line like all the other stories.
@greennotGreen: Agreed with your point.
But even if that’s the case, the underlying purpose is to further hinder access to resources to people who are already struggling.
Damn all of you people for posting the link to the bill while I was composing my recent comment.
God damn youse all to hell.
In terms of the cash-in-pocket-relative provisions, it looks like this is nothing more onerous than the limit most stores have on cash back when you pay with a debit card. Other aspects may not be as innocuous.
@SST: This was mentioned before and the law is sick, sick, sick. The same party wants to decrease funding to the IRS. It boggles my mind that sane individuals can support this group.
Anything to make life harder for poor people and to punish them for using assistance benefits.
Quite a while back welfare recipients in my area had to go to certain locations (an armory here) to pick up food (dry milk, peanut butter, blocks of cheese, etc.) My aunt had a neighbor n welfare. She would buy some of these items from the neighbor.
I am sure there could be a way similar to have more then $20 in the recipients pockets now. How will they (the idiots)know?
Debtor’s Prison — just around the corner.
Little by little, this country gets uglier and uglier.
Like the Arizona suggestion to make Food Stamp debit cards bright orange, this is about humiliating poor people and making their lives more difficult and more unpleasant.
I mean, take the average 60+-year-old disabled person. Clearly, if the GOP can simply humiliate that person enough, he or she will stop being disabled, get a high-paying job in our booming economy, and leave the easy life of the dole behind for the proud life of a mid-level corporate executive. A few years of bold investing and the nest egg will be big enough to allow a comfy retirement and a couple of trips a year to Europe or the South Seas.
When it comes to taxes and the IRS the Republicans would rather spend a million dollars to collect one dollar from a poor person than spend one dollar to collect a million from a rich person. (Posted elsewhere a while back.) Thay isn’t mere hyperbole; their behavior in the past has supported that basic idea.
I’ve watched the war on the poor fester over the decades since Saint Ronnie sat on his throne, but I have to admit to being a little bit surprised at the vehemence the GOP is bringing to this crusade now. Admittedly, they have to make huge issues out of tiny ones, because they have no idea how to solve any genuine problems, but the way they’re going after the poor is positively obscene.
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
i think a measure that forces defense contractors, well connected energy concerns, all sorts of businesses that have the government as a client, should, as a part of any contract, be forced to suck the dick of the poor.
this takes away the need for people on public assistance to pay crack ho’s for the refocusing power of a blow job. the crackheads, in turn get a price floor established for their services, as they will no longer be having to serve the neediest among us, they can go after people who can afford more per blow job, and choose someone can perform the task better than some government tit addicted contractor.
I think the woman who testified was thinking that anyone on MFIP found with more then $20 in their pocket could have that used as evidence that they’ve withdrawn more then their monthly allotment.
There is a simple world view in which the only reason for laws and regulation to exist is to enable punishment that preserves “social order” – a somewhat ambiguous term that in many cases can be understood as people knowing and keeping to their place in a social hierarchy.
In this view the only rules needed are those that protect a higher class from a lower. Any other rules are morally unnecessary and an affront to “freedom”.
While this is an extra simplistic analysis, it often seems to be a core belief behind many arguments about what laws are or are not needed.
Mike in NC
This must be more of that “small unobtrusive government” that conservatives pine for, except when they’re tapping your phones, reading your mail, or counting the spare change in your pocket.
When republican legislators write bills that cut money from groups of people who have no other options, they never have answers to what happens to those people then. They don’t even seem to have ever thought about it. No conception of consequences again.
The old legislator that thought we should send people to Siberia is probably how a lot of them really feel. I’ve always wanted to ask one of those conservatives if they would be happier if it was legal to take all the people they think are too expensive to care for in front of a firing squad and eliminate all those useless people. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them secretly would think that would be a great solution. Yes, I am bitter this morning.
Edit: I should have also said I see nothing wrong with anyone on welfare having money in their pocket.
If we make it illegal to have money, only criminals will have money.
@greennotGreen: Agreed. I looked up the legislation last night when this was posted and should have posted that we shouldn’t get too upset about it. Went too bed instead.
Words like “criminalize” are fairly sensational.
The main point of this law is to change the residency requirement for receiving public assistance from 30 to 90 days. That’s what they wanted to accomplish. The debit card restrictions are just a bone to the base.
It makes it harder for poor people to move to Minnesota. The idea is they won’t come if they have to wait 90 days for “emergency” assistance.
I think it fits nicely within the conservative theory that states are like small countries. They’re just bound and determined to destroy any semblance of “national” or “one country”. It really is a pre-civil war mind-set, and you see it again and again, with Arizona imposing what amounts to a “state border” ID requirement, the attack on federal labor law, and all the claims that federal law doesn’t apply within conservative states, and on and on.
Also, has anyone found a copy of the proposed “Audit the women who have had abortions” bill? Or know where that story broke?
@debbie: those asshats knew what they were doing. The Az. Dept of Tourism publicly stated that the #1 tourist origin for Arizona businesses was Mexico (also #1 international trading partner) and these yahoo just drove the car off the cliff anyways as if they thought Thelma and Louise lived or something….
The IRS-Abortion Audit story appeared in several places. The provisions are part of H.R.3 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
See the story in Mother Jones
We have regular editing back… yay… thanks JC or whoever.
I think it’s just pure ideology. They know immigration is reserved for federal law, but they wanted to go way the hell out to assert state supremacy.
I don’t think there’s any practical analysis at all. It’s pure theory. The Arizona bill wasn’t drafted by state legislators, and all the supposed “practical” reasons for putting it in place turned out to be fiction. The Obama Administration has been more aggressive enforcing immigration law, not less. That’s just fact, and the governor of Arizona knows it. They farmed it out to a theorist/activist. If nothing is reserved to the feds, they can create a loose confederacy of 50 states.
They’re True Believers. Tourism is unimportant when you’re a crusade.
@kay: Actually according to post at Cab Drollery, the AZ legislature was set to vote on a few more immigration bills and they voted them down — there was a lot of protest from business groups about lost tourism of Arizona’s reputation as anti-immigrant. If most tourism comes from Mexico, well, yeah, affluent Mexicans can travel someplace else.
I’m glad. Watching it unfold, and watching the supposed “practical” rationale fall apart (the made-up headless bodies, the crime wave that wasn’t, the near-constant lying by proponents of the law, and then the…muscular response by the feds to protect their turf on immigration law was interesting, to say the least.
Imagine 50 states with 50 different immigration schemes. Cross-state-border ID checks. I mean, this is lunacy. We tried it their way. It didn’t work.
I’m glad the “business community” shook conservatives out of their 1865 states’ rights fantasy.
@kay: I think it is going to take a long time before AZ overcomes its current image. My wife has never seen the Grand Canyon, but there are a number of other places she has not seen in the US. The Grand Canyon will just have to wait.
i suppose that MN republican congresmen will now refuse to pay more than $20 for a prostitute so as not to violate their payout limits.
Always be cautious relying on sources with names like “fight back news.”
@Suffern ACE: The idea is that if it’s a tax provision, it’ll be audited somehow.
That’s it. That’s the extent of the story. It got blown up from that.
@PurpleGirl: That’s also a misleading, sensationalist headline / slant. The entirety of the article relies on this:
I’m sure there a bunch of ways to enforce that provision w/o abortion audits. The performing hospital could provide tax documentation, for example, and audits could be done at the hospital level.
Actually, I don’t think the headline is over broad… The initial proposal was for NO money.
Even I try to keep SOME money with me, but then, I’m in Wisconsin, it’s only illegal to be in a Union.
You could look at PZ Meyers blog, he has a link to the ORIGINAL language, which was for NO money.
Um. PZ Myers
The “Update” does not temper the headline at all; it just describes it.
If you can’t get more than $20 in cash each month then you can’t have more than $20 on you in any given month. Same thing.
Why is this beyond ridiculous? Because poor people need to buy and use things that cost cash, that don’t accept those EBT cards. Such as public transportation. That they take to jobs/job interviews.
This is overboard punishment for some bad actors who take out cash and use it for non-essentials (maybe even illegal drugs, who knows). So they are proposing to penalize the majority of people (usually single mothers) who truly need this assistance and don’t abuse it because there are a**holes.
And yet we can’t penalize the financial industry because they are mostly a**holes.
People, think about how you buy things — credit card, ATM/debit card, checks, cash. How much cash do you carry with you? The Minnesota EBT card can only be used at certain approved vendors… can you use it to buy stamps? Can you use it to buy gas? Or take public transit? Does the landlord take it for rent? Will the check cashing place where you buy the money order to pay your utilities bills take the EBT card? What fees are charged for using the card? Do those fees come out of the benefits, thereby reducing what money you have to cover expenses? Restricting how and where people can use benefits, or for what, restricts the people and makes life harder, period.
West of the Cascades
What really sucks about the article over at C&L is that the merits of what is in the bill are worth discussing and debating on its merits, and sensationalizing it as “making it illegal for poor people to carry cash” reminds me vaguely of the way the other side threw around the phrase “death panels.”
Should government assistance be paid in cash, or in the form of a debit card that could only be used for buying goods and services? It’s a legitimate debate – if the public policy goal is to make sure that people are able to use assistance payments for basic life necessities (like food), then it makes some sense for the government to do what it can to make sure that the assistance supplied goes to pay for food. One thing that this prevents is a recipient from using cash to buy illegal drugs, alcohol or cigarettes (things that presumably don’t fit the category of “basic life necessities”). But at the same time it’s demeaning to make someone pay for everything with a debit card – they’re not accepted everywhere, and they prevent (for example) someone from getting cash to buy a meal from a street vendor (one of the most common ways of getting healthy cheap food here in Portland).
From an overall policy perspective – you want to help people eat, but also want to make sure that they ARE using the assistance to eat – this bill actually makes a fair bit of sense. A damned shame we had to shout “death panels” first.
@West of the Cascades:
We have a friend who is on public assistance and it is his ONLY income. He sells his card every month to a family member so he has cash, then uses the cash to pay his phone and his car insurance (he’s rural), then lives on beans and rice. He’s been out of work for over 3 years now, but he figures without a car or phone he’ll never get work.
Wish these Goopers cared as much about controlling the money they give to bankers, Halliburton, the war machine and Big Ag as they do about people who live on $300 a month.
Reading the bill, it looks as though people could use the debit card anywhere within the state MN except at liquor stores, tattoo parlors, tobacco shops, and similar businesses. As such, it would appear that paying phone bills, etc., is entirely possible with the card. I am not overly appalled by these provisions. The residency change and prohibition on non-food out of state purchases, on the other hand, are, as Kay noted above, problematic.
@Svensker: Yep. They are concerned that your friend might buy meth or beer. And this type of bill that would make it very difficult to sell the card for cash would make him just have to take the step of buying groceries for someone then selling those groceries. Makes no sense. Hopefully he would remember to check the box so that he could get his monthly $20 bill.
we had a scandal of sorts in cali making right wing media rounds when the EBT cards were audited and some had been used in vegas, or in strip clubs…
if you google ebt and strip clubs you’ll see a bunch of right wing stuff about it
there’s also a CBS story about colorado banning the use of EBT cards at strip clubs.
I expect it’s sensationalized to gin up outrage at young bucks getting a lap dance with your tax dollars in order to get support to take milk and diapers away from 18 month olds.
As a resident of Minnesota, I’m far more concerned about the proposed 17% cut in bus service in the metro, courtesy of transit-hating Republicans in the MN House.
You wanna make life tougher for black and brown people? Cut one out of every six bus runs. And take a guess how those cuts will be apportioned. Exactly fairly among predominantly-white and majority-minority areas, I’m fer sure you-betchaing.
@PurpleGirl: It can be used just like any other debit card. re: debit cards generally: yes, they can be used to purchase gas, food, public transportation, etc. Welcome to the 21st century.
It’s all about the stigmatization. Cash is for regular folks.
For all the GOP’s claims that the individual is the one best able to choose how to spend their money, they really seem to be pushing for laws that help the government dictate when and where money is spent. It sounds much more like a “nanny state” than anything the Democrats have done to earn that title.
As has been pointed out, this is a limit on cash withdrawals from the card from the state, not of their own money. I understand the reasoning behind that and I hate when “we” are guilty of this sort of twisting of facts. That sort of thing was the main thing that bothered me about watching KO on Countdown.
@jpe: oh that’s so much better
@Bill Murray: Isn’t it? Since debit cards can be used anywhere, what’s the problem w/ the legislation?
If legislators were so worried about taxpayer dollars being misused, why don’t they pass legislation requiring that the merchant fees for the debit cards be credited back to the state? If the transaction wouldn’t exist without the state, that seems reasonable, and the state could recoup about 3% of all the money they put out there.
But no – that would affect corporations, and we mustn’t do that…
(But the biggest problem I see with the $20 cap is that tacos in SoCal cost $1 if they only take cash but anyplace that caters to gringos and their expensive payment methods costs $2 per taco.)
Once upon a time, it was “millions of dollars for defense, not one cent for tribute”.
Now it’s “millions of dollars for punishment, not one cent for support”….
@jpe: In fact, debit cards can’t be used everywhere, but that’s not really the mistake here.
If debit cards were fee-free, I think there would be no real problem here. But they’re not: someone receives “$100” (nominally) in assistance, merchant banks take $15 in fees, and they wind up with just $85 in spending money. Give them $100 in cash, and they wind up with $100 in spending money. The banks are charging a 15% tax. (These numbers are not made up. They are at the higher end, sometimes the bank tax is as low as 3 to 5 percent. It’s still there though. I thought one of our goals was to avoid taxes…?)
Moreover, the whole approach is useless. Back in the Bad Old 1990s Days when people got actual stamps for food stamps, investigators found that addicts in San Francisco would receive their food stamps and then immediately sell them and use the proceeds to buy drugs. Quelle horreur! So, the rules were changed and the “needy” received their assistance on special debit cards.
Result: addicts used their special debit cards to buy food, and then immediately sold the food and used the proceeds to buy drugs.
Anyone with even a smidgeon of economics sense should be able to understand the problem. Food, shelter, clothing: all these things have monetary value. Therefore, all can be sold. Someone with sufficient motivation will turn them into money and use the money for the things he or she really wants, i.e., the next dose of heroin or crack or crank or whatever is the favorite boogieman-drug-of-the-week. That, indeed, is the whole point of money: it’s a medium of exchange, by which individuals express their preference for one item over another.
Even if you eliminate the money, individuals will still barter. Moreover, some basic barter item will become money (it was cigarettes, in POW camps in WW2). You cannot eliminate commerce; if you try, “black markets” spring up spontaneously. Commerce is a basic, essential feature of human life.
You might as well just go for the most efficient method, which—surprise!—turns out to be using … money.
@Chris: Chris, I haven’t used a credit card in 3 years. I use a debit card, and the only thing I haven’t been able to do with a debit card in that 3 years was rent a car.
Commenting at Ballon Juice since 1937
Won’t that cost a lot of money?
Does Social Security count as public assistance?
Also only debt cards
I use my debt card for the deposit on rent cars. I pay cash for the actual rental amount. Works fine. Course I rent cars about once every 2 years anymore.
Agree with the barter/commerce comment. People will sell/barter what they have for what they want/need regardless of restrictions.
What I see is that the rethugs want to shut off all subsistence payments but know they can’t all in one step. So make it hard for anyone on the dole not to be breaking the rules and now once again, government does not work so lets end the program. Great concept
1 Scuttle the program’s effectiveness
2 Then scuttle the program
hmmmm….I spend twenty bucks a month just on tampons and tp for family of four – just how exactly are folks on assistance supposed to buy things like shampoo, detergent, dish soap and basic household cleaners(none of which can be bought using food stamps by the way)?
My totally juvenile take on it. Because I’m grumpy.
@WaterGirl: Here in Philly, many apartments don’t have clothes washing facilities and many laundromats are cash only. Septa buses/trains/trolleys/ etc are also cash only. The cheapest monthly pass is $83, the cheapest weekly is $22. Many corner stores don’t accept anything but cash and those are the best places to buy tokens.
Assuming one only has to catch one bus, twice a day, 5 days/week, with a fare of two dollars per, there’s your $20 for the whole month gone in the first week. And Septa does not take EBT, afaik.
I realize we’re talking about MN, but if a law like this came to PA, a whole bunch of people would be screwed.
Septa accepts debit cards. You can even buy passes online.
@jpe: Assuming Septa takes ACCESS/EBT cards, assuming people have access to the internet, and assuming that people are close enough to an actual Septa station to make going there financially worthwhile, i.e. are you spending more money going to Septa/Rite Aid/whatever to get a pass or tokens than you’re saving, you still haven’t addressed a host of other issues.
Accepting credit/debit/ebt/access cards is not nearly universal, especially in poor communities.
If you have $20 you’re a criminal and go to jail. If you don’t have $20 you’re a vagrant and go to jail. It’s the perfect rethuglican law.