Republicans are bringing 'welfare queen' politics to the tax cut fight

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore
Media Outlet: The Washington Post

Rachel Black and Aleta Sprague wrote for The Washington Post on how the GOP is reusing an old stereotype in the tax cut brawl: 

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) supports the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which saw its funding lapse Oct. 1, and said last week that “CHIP is having trouble . . . because we don’t have money anymore” due to spending on what he sees as less worthy programs — but not because of the tax cut bill he just voted for that would add $1 trillion to the deficit. His assessment: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”
Days later, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) weighed in on repeal of the estate tax by saying: “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”
After months of trying to convince Americans that tax cuts are all about job and GDP growth, suddenly, helping the “forgotten men and women” has given way to clearly putting them in their place. To close the deal, the GOP is redeploying the most reliable device in the in the us-vs.-them playbook: The spirit — if not the visage — of President Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen.”


Aleta Sprague is a program fellow with the Family-Centered Social Policy program at New America.

Rachel Black is the co-director of the Family-Centered Social Policy program at New America. In this role, she leads research, analysis, and public commentary around a portfolio of issues devoted to creating a more equitable public policy approach to  advancing a new vision for social policy that allows all families to thrive in an era of growing risk, uncertainty, and inequality.