Oren Cass: The Left’s Welfare Extremism

UPDATE: 8 Senate Democrats voted against the Bernie Sanders amendment to add the $15 minimum wage to the COVID bill.

Oren Cass was on Rising this morning to talk about findings of a recent American Compass study on family policy and wealth redistribution and his views on the subject which have ignited a controversy. The debate isn’t over whether the government should help families but how.

National Review:

“In the New York Times on Tuesday, I made the case for paying a generous new family benefit to households that have earned income of their own. A single mother with two young children, who had worked part-time at the minimum wage the prior year, could receive $800 in cash each month — nearly $10,000 annually. Little did I know, this “monstrous” idea is akin to vicious child abuse and marks me as “a profoundly evil man” for distinguishing between working families and the non-working poor. With alarming speed, an insistence that all families receive no-strings-attached cash has become table stakes in the Left’s bizarro discourse. As with social issues, where positions held by Barack Obama now constitute unconscionable bigotry, long-running and bipartisan views about fighting poverty lie suddenly beyond the pale. …

The problem, you see, is that my proposal for a Family Income Supplemental Credit (Fisc) does not go as far as Senator Mitt Romney’s Family Security Act, which would offer nearly universal payments — thus including families disconnected from work entirely. …

This is a major fault line between Left and Right, and has been for centuries. As Yuval Levin characterizes the conservative view in The Great Debate, “the facts of human birth and death and the social institutions built around them link individuals, families, and communities inexorably, and to pretend otherwise (let alone to sever their links) would be disastrous for political life.” For liberals, by contrast, “The independence of individuals from their neighbors is a function of the independence of generations from their predecessors; this independence in the first generation is the essence of the theory of Enlightenment liberalism, which applies its timeless principles to all subsequent generations as well.”

National Review:

“News reports indicate that the Biden administration wants to dramatically expand the welfare state, starting with an increase in the refundable “child tax credit,” a program that provides extensive welfare cash grants to families who owe no taxes.

If enacted permanently, the Biden plan would constitute the second-largest expansion of means-tested welfare entitlements in U.S. history. In constant dollars, its annual cost would dwarf the initial costs of the Medicaid, food stamps, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children programs. Only Obamacare would be more expensive. …”

Is anyone currently watching Ron Johnson, Mitch McConnell and Pat Toomey and all the rest opposing Joe’s stimulus plan which includes the $1,400 checks and reforms the child tax credit and being persuaded by their arguments to oppose it because it is a really bad idea? What working class parent is going to sit around and get offended when the federal government starts sending them monthly checks?

Imagine a White working class couple that makes less than $70,000 a year that has two young kids. They open the mailbox and there is a check from Joe for $600. The $600 check starts coming every month. Is their reaction going to be “I am going to vote for a True Con now because the nigger down the street who doesn’t have a job” also got check? Did anything like that happen with the stimulus checks? Was there a huge public backlash that the undeserving poor got the two stimulus checks from Trump?

What do populist voters think about this issue? Populist voters who are Republicans strongly support the Biden stimulus. True Cons voters who are Republicans strongly oppose the Biden stimulus. There is no such thing as “Right Populist” voters. They are just Populist voters.

What about raising the federal minimum wage?

51% of Republican voters would support raising it to at least $11.

New York Times:

“Senator Mitt Romney has set off a vital policy debate with his Family Security Act, an innovative and well-designed proposal that would pay a monthly benefit to most American households for each of its children, beginning during pregnancy. Payments depend on a child’s age, so a family with a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old, say, would receive $7,200 annually.

The proposal’s ambitious scale is appropriate to the enormous scale of the challenge. A recent survey by my organization, American Compass, highlights the economic pressure that families face: Only one-quarter of people 18-50 say they are living the American dream. Among everyone else, a majority say they have fewer children than they want, most often because they couldn’t afford to have more. …

The critical question is: Who should be eligible? Current federal policy provides a child tax credit of $2,000 per child, but it only cancels out taxes that you owe; a family with low earnings and little tax liability receives little benefit. Mr. Romney’s plan, and a one-year provision included by Democrats in the latest Covid relief package, solve this by making their benefits essentially universal so that a family with no earnings receives the full value.

That goes too far. While universality may appeal in its simplicity, it violates the principle of reciprocity at the heart of a durable social compact.  …”

Oren Cass wants to tie the child tax credit to work.

It is a bit too late for that though. The child tax credit which is about to pass the Senate in Joe’s stimulus bill is a universal benefit. It is not like the Democrats are going to disqualify their own voters. As with the stimulus checks, no one who gets the child tax credit checks will care who else is getting them.

Take a look at the findings from the American Compass study:

The Republican Party is currently half populist and half conservative on economics. If more working class reinforcements arrive from among Independent voters in the next election cycle while affluent suburban Republicans continue to leave, it could tip the balance of power within the party.

Note: Is there a “Huey Long lane” opening up in 2024? I think Trump might have been only a 50% step and we haven’t seen the next 50% step yet.

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  1. I’m as Right-wing as it gets and I hope the $1,400 check passes. I also support Romney’plan even though I detest Romney himself.

    In trying to explain my support of these payouts to somewhat more establishment-leaning GOP family members I have made the points that the national debt will never be paid off and is largely irrelevent. The system is awful, broke and will not last. We should get whatever we can from this terrible system before it falls. This line of reasoning seems to work with most people I have spoken.

  2. @ big tech enemy, spot on good sir, thee debt, will never be paid, they are killing the dollar, thats what all this “reset” business is about any way, the uniparty has been disparaging and fleecing the working people all along , playing santa claus for the oligarch’s, wall street, corporate america, the third world, certain little mideast countries, that can more than afford too pay their own way, anybody but struggling people here in our land, piss on the uniparty and their bullshit principles, i think these devils want our people sitting in the dirt, flies buzzing around their head’, while they beg for alms .we look out for our own! From now on, things couln’t be any more clear than they are.

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