The latest bullshit study from a Libertarian ‘think tank’ (sic)

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

BullshitjThere's nothing like having billionaire wingnut benefactors to pay you to write propagandistic pseudo-scientific crap. Almost everything that comes out of right-wing think tanks starts with the predetermined conclusion they wish to make, and then they work backwards to fabricate a pseudo-scientific framework to give the study the veneer of credibility. The scientific method, however, requires systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. You don't start with a conclusion.

The latest bullshit study from a Libertarian "think tank" (sic) comes from the Cato Institute, recycling a previous bullshit study from 1995 claiming that "welfare is better than work." Josh Barro at Business Insider, no socialist liberal, destroys this propagandistic pseudo-scientific crap. There's A New Study That Says Welfare Pays Better Than Work — Here's Why It's Total Nonsense:

The Cato Institute is out with an update to their 1995 study which purports to show that, in most states, welfare pays better than work.

They add up benefits available through eight programs to a low-income
woman with two children, and find total benefit values well in excess
of full-time minimum wage work, or even, in some states, middle-skill
work.

The study is called "The Welfare-Versus-Work Tradeoff," and it's
meant to show why people don't get off welfare. And it's B.S., for three
reasons
.

1. Very few people actually qualify for all eight of the programs
Cato looks at. Particularly, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
(cash welfare) and housing assistance can provide some very expensive
benefits. But fewer than two million households get TANF and only about
four million get housing assistance. It is much more typical for a welfare beneficiary to be getting SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid (health insurance), but no assistance with housing or cash. So, the
typical welfare benefit is much lower than Cato makes out, making
staying on welfare less appealing.

2. Welfare benefits for single adults are much less generous than those for women with children.

3. Not all benefits are lost when a welfare recipient starts working.
SNAP benefits phase out gradually with rising income. People who go
back to work don't necessarily lose health benefits, either. Some get
new health benefits through work. The children of low-income uninsured workers qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program in most
states. In some states, low-income working adults even qualify for
Medicaid. So, going back to work doesn't mean nearly the loss of
benefits that Cato implies.

That said, poverty traps are real. This is the phenomenon of people
losing benefits as they earn more income of their own. It's a problem
that welfare programs need to be designed around, and there are two ways
of mitigating it.

One is to make benefits more generous by extending their phaseout
ranges, so people don't lose as many benefits as they earn more income.
That costs money. The other is to reduce benefits. That reduces the
standard of living for the most vulnerable people in America.

It's easier to make an argument for the latter approach when you have
an economy that creates broad prosperity and makes it easy for people
to find living-wage jobs if they are willing to work.

We don't have that economy.

This is the problem that conservatives and libertarians refuse to
grapple with: If you're unwilling to support policies that promote
macroeconomic stability, such as counter-cyclical fiscal and monetary policies, you're only making a more generous welfare state more morally necessary.

Meanwhile, Democrats have implemented a reform that actually does help to address the poverty trap issue. The Affordable Care Act,
when it's implemented next year, will make it possible for people on
Medicaid to go back to work without fearing loss of health insurance.
It
will turn what benefit cliffs exist in the Medicaid program into a
gradual slope, so nobody will have to fear that an extra dollar of
income will make them uninsured.

That is, the Affordable Care Act will do this except in
Republican-led states that are rejecting the Medicaid expansion
. In
those states, the welfare-versus-work tradeoff will be more tilted
toward welfare, and a cliff in Medicaid benefits will still be providing
a disincentive to take a job
.

That's because conservatives and libertarians don't really care about
the poverty trap, much as they may talk about it — they just hate
spending money on the poor
.

Maybe those right-wing ideologues behind the
United Republican Alliance for Principled Conservatives trying to put a referendum of Governor Brewer's Medicaid Restoration/Expansion Plan on the ballot ought to reconsider their misguided position. And come clean: just admit you hate poor people.

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