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Bureaucrats Go Ballistic to Save Welfare

It should be a bridge to personal responsibility

Whatever happened to the good old days when the American ideal was to get people OFF of welfare?  Those days are just a distant memory in at least one state where citizens are ignoring a welfare program in droves—and bureaucrats are going ballistic.

It’s like the old question, what if they gave a war and nobody came?  In Texas, a few adjustments were made in the state/federal partnership known as CHIP—and thousands of middle class families who had been using the program decided that the new rules were too much of a bother, so they dropped off the rolls.

Understand that CHIP—the Children’s Health Insurance Plan—is welfare for families that have a decent income, but who have more kids than they can afford.  Instead of suggesting that perhaps there is a time to consider not popping out any more children, governments at the state and federal level simply created massive new bureaucracies to transfer wealth from more responsible taxpayers.

In government lingo, this is known as a win-win situation.  The middle class families that have too much money to qualify for Medicaid get taxpayer dollars AND the government expands with new bureaucracies and thousands of new workers at both the state and federal level.  

If you’ve followed the government’s feeble attempts to shut down some old VA hospitals that no longer have a mission, you know how hard it is to shrink government at any level.  Members of Congress from those districts went into full battle mode, and so we taxpayers will be paying for useless VA centers forever.  Indeed, it seems that the mission of every government program is to protect its own territory and grow, grow, grow.

But what happens when the people don’t want the program?  In the case of the dwindling CHIP program, the bureaucrats get a budget—and a candidate.  

That’s right, folks!  If middle class families aren’t signing up for CHIP, it’s the families’ fault and they must be adjusted!  Resistance is futile!  You will be assimilated!

The numbers in Texas are enough to depress anyone who earns a living through people feeding at the government trough.  Enrollment in the plan is way down, dropping below 292,000.  That’s the lowest number since 2001 and far from the glory days when enrollees topped the half-million mark.

So the State of Texas spent $800,000 of taxpayers’ money in May to convince middle class families that they need welfare.  Even with that major radio campaign, new enrollees have been hard to come by—just under 14,000 of them in the last period—and that’s “disappointing” to Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.  Over a two-year period, the state will spend $3 million to hire an ad agency to market CHIP.

Meanwhile, the woman known as “Grandma,” Carole Strayhorn, is promising that if voters oust Rick Perry in favor of her, she’ll bolster the CHIP program.  In fact, the Texas gubernatorial candidates seem to be in a competition as to who would pump more money into this needless program.  Perhaps the Texas ballot should have a choice reading “No Qualified Candidate In This Race.”  

There was a day when welfare was a compassionate way for the people, through government, to lend a helping hand to people who were down and out.  It was supposed to be temporary.  It’s not that way anymore.  President Clinton signed welfare reform under duress, but it worked and it got a lot of people off the government dole and into jobs.  But the success of welfare reform just doesn’t resonate with the poverty lobby.  

It’s true that in Texas the rules have been tightened and people have to jump through a few hoops to qualify for CHIP.  But that’s other people’s money they’re getting and the process should not be effortless.  It’s also true that some families dropped off private insurance in order to take advantage of CHIP.

Welfare should be a bridge to personal responsibility and self-sustainability.  Unfortunately, it’s become a full employment program for bureaucrats who will fight to the end to keep it as bloated as they can.  Even when the CHIPs are down.

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Mr. Woolley is a Texas-based talk show host heard on KVCE AM 1160 weeknights at 8 p.m. Visit him at www.BeLogical.com.

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