Thursday, January 28, 2021

Surprise! WI GOP's mask ban forfeits $49 million in food aid

Because they rushed a purely partisan power-grabbing masking ban bill through the State Senate without elementary research or a hearing, Wisconsin Republican Death Cultists got to make a bonus addition to an agenda of angst - creating more hunger - that through inertia and obstruction has sped the pandemic's spread across the state.

How can the GOP-led State Assembly convert this found opportunity to make life here even more difficult for low-income residents whom Republicans reflexively diminish, scapegoat and otherwise repress?

By voting Thursday to wipe out Gov. Evers' emergency COVID19 masking order knowing the move would end $49 million in food assistance awarded to states under a federal program that supports states which use emergency powers to fight pandemic-related job losses: 

A COVID-19 package Congress passed last year gave states additional funding for food stamps if they have emergency health orders in place. Republican state lawmakers plan to end Wisconsin's health emergency order on Thursday, which would prevent nearly 243,000 households from collecting $49.3 million in assistance, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. 

Will Republicans in the Assembly do the right thing and decline to take such a nasty vote knowing that their horribly-drafted bill could remove food from the kitchen tables of families in Wisconsin whose breadwinners lost their jobs during the pandemic?

Let's look at the record:

* The GOP-led Legislature delayed passing a COVID action plan last year, and that deliberate stall by small minds in the name of small government cost Wisconsin citizens $25 million in COVID19-related unemployment payments.

* Yes, that's the same program which Republicans hamstrung with insufficient budgets and archaic technology for years - read all about that, here - because they don't believe in using government to actually help people.

And because a government that doesn't work well boosts the GOP's self-fulfilling anti-public sector gloat that, as their icon Ronald Reagan put it in his first inaugural address: 'Government isn't the solution to our problem. Government IS the problem.'

But now they are gleefully using the under-performing unemployment compensation program politically - and accountability free - to bash the Evers' administration with yet another partisan cudgel - a pattern they've used since 2018 - to keep hammering a Governor they recognize only when scheming to weaken his credibility and hijack his authority.

* And do not forget that Wisconsin Republicans during the Walker years used a variety of mean-spirited drug testing mandates, along with punitive work requirements and flat-out arbitrary, cold-hearted take-backs to use food as a weapon against people with the fewest resources to make ends meet.

Or course, Wisconsin's Republican legislative leaders are not above raising their own daily taxpayer-paid, no-receipts-necessary expense account limits whenever their tummies start growling, as they did in 2016:

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos last week quietly expanded a taxpayer-funded perk for state legislators in a move that could increase an Assembly lawmaker's annual pay by more than $1,000, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin has learned.

The decades-old perk, known as per diems, allows legislators to claim daily allowances on top of their $51,000 salaries for each day they work in Madison on state business. Assembly members may claim up to $69 for single-day trips or up to $138 for overnight business.

And this 2018 story shows those limits had been raised again: 

Most Assembly legislators could claim up to $157 per overnight visit to Madison last year and up to $78.50 per single-day visit. Senators could claim up to $115 per day regardless of lodging needs. 

Bottom line: The Wisconsin GOP-led Legislature will always put itself first.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on the lookout for his guy at the airport last year. Now he's got the state's poor and unemployed in his sights.



Katrina said...

I think the real surprise is that we found out before the vote rather than after.

Anonymous said...

Moving here was the worst mistake my husband and I ever made for our family. I can't wait to get out of this state and so help me, once I do I will never set foot here again. The legislature is actively trying to kill people and I refuse to raise my family among such scum.

Anonymous said...

We will soon hear about the marvelous nutritional value of popcorn.

Anonymous said...

I hope Governor Evers uses his power to send this to a higher court. Our Wisconsin GOP is in trouble - they just don't know it yet. Keep voting DEMOCRAT. Keep voting FEMALE. Keep VOTING!

Jo said...

Ron Johnson, Robin Vos, Fitzgerald are all power hungry politicians that have never cared about the people of Wisconsin!! I want them out no matter what it takes! They need to follow Walkers path and get out of Wisconsin!

Spottedcow said...

Ah yes, small time partisan "news" sites. Are you seriously trying to get people riled up about per diem? "On top of their $51,000 salary". Yeah, can you imagine spending half the year staying in a hotel on a 50k salary? In downtown Madison? The increase in per diem isn't going to go to legislators, it's going to go to the hotels, who are gracious enough to provide those legislators with rooms far below market value for the area. Government rate was 67/night a couple decades ago when I was working at a hotel down there and a normal room on the weekend was 129/night. Believe me, it's not like legislators are getting rich on per diem. That's passing through straight to the hotel. But hey, we could try and eliminate the per diem and ensure that only the independently wealthy (or Madison residents) can hold office. That couldn't possibly have a negative impact on our government...

James Rowen said...

To Spottedcow - Thanks for the hotel information. The post is principally about processes which determine distribution of food benefits.

Unknown said...

They need to go..

Anonymous said...

Sounds good, but they must provide receipts.

Anonymous said...

To Spotted Cow I would just say that the staff in the best restaurants and clubs in Madison and Milwaukee can tell you all about Assemblyman This or Senator That who dines and gets hammered for next to nothing. Don't come around crying poor.