A group of Republican senators has proposed a plan to reform welfare — not so much because they expect it to succeed, but to make an important point: that the deficit supercommittee can meet its $1.2 trillion goal without raising taxes.
“I think there’s kind of an acceptance that as long as there’s Democratic control of the Senate, we’re not going to pass anything good,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), one of the bill’s cosponsors. “Our point here is to show that there is a lot of money that we could save and deal with our deficit in a responsible way if we would look at it.”
The legislation would save $2.43 trillion over ten years by returning means-tested welfare spending to 2007 levels. It would also eliminate federal funding of abortion in these welfare programs and prevent people from using food stamps at fast-food restaurants. The changes would be implemented in 2015, or when unemployment dips below 7.5 percent.
“It’s showing that there are rational ways to begin to solve our problem,” he added. “And it’s also a way to show for the 2012 elections that Republicans have a lot of solutions.”
DeMint lamented that the supercommittee is currently considering tax increases and budget gimmicks, such as counting as “saved” money from the draw-downs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, money that would never have been spent in the first place. “It’s pretty frustrating,” he said. “But this [welfare-reform plan] is one good example — there’s plenty of money we can cut, and make our country a lot better for it.”
DeMint said he is worried that some Republicans will end up supporting a supercommittee plan that includes tax increases. Raising taxes on job creators won’t solve America’s budgetary woes, he argued, criticizing Republicans who insist on compromise. “They say, ‘Well, hey, you gotta meet everybody halfway,’” he said. “It’s not gonna solve a problem to do something wrong in order to hopefully get a little something right.”