2013-10-18 / Letters

Common sense welfare reforms spurned

To the editor:

Imagine your brother-in-law asks you to lend him some money. You say that money’s tight and ask if he’s applied for a job lately — he says “no” and you suggest he first look for a job and come back to you if he still needs help. Sounds reasonable, right?

Now imagine your sister-in-law immediately tries to shame you for making this reasonable condition.

“How dare you suggest he should have to look for a job before you give him money,” she says. “You’re just trying to vilify him.”

You may feel taken aback. And you may also feel taken advantage of; your financial help taken for granted.

A similar scenario played out in Augusta recently. Republican leadership introduced a sensible welfare reform bill that would simply require an ablebodied person to apply for three jobs before receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash welfare benefits.

Nineteen other states are doing this, from conservative Georgia to liberal Vermont. Nonetheless, the bill met immediate resistance from Democrats who said Republicans were just trying to vilify the poor.

Liberal-minded legislators apparently think Maine’s struggling welfare system is just fine the way it is. As a matter of fact, they have opposed every single welfare reform measure to come before the state legislature this session.

We think they’re out of touch, and so do the people we speak with every day.

It is time for us to work together responsibly to embrace common sense reform so that our stretched-thin welfare safety net is still within reach, and it is also affordable and sustainable.

Rep. Heather Sirocki (R) and Rep. Amy Volk (R) Maine House of Representatives

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