With a little bit of luck, Maine’s “War on the Poor” will become a blueprint for the rest of the nation. Under the direction of Republican Governor Paul LePage, the state has dramatically cleared the welfare rolls through practical legislation that puts people back to work. Over the last three years, the state has taken 58,000 citizens off food stamps and back into an independent life of economic self-reliance.
And of course, to liberals, this qualifies as a war on the poor.
At a Heritage Foundation event last Thursday, Mary Mayhew of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services said it wasn’t easy being the left’s evil bogeyman. “I can’t stress enough what an attack campaign it has been from the media for four and a half years,” she said.
Despite the media’s take on the woman they’ve often dubbed “Commissioner Evil,” Mayhew and LePage say that their efforts have been solely focused on helping Maine’s poor, not hurting them. Mayhew recalled an incident that happened when touring a substance abuse facility not long after she took the job.
“I was taken aback by one of the youth who came up to me—it was actually several youth, who were just completely focused on whether I could help them get disability,” she said. “These were 15-year-old, 16-year-old young men clearly battling addiction, but they had decided that the answer for them was to pursue disability. And, frankly, as we all look at that pathway, that truly is committing individuals to a lifetime of poverty.”
What are Mayhew and LePage doing that has attracted such criticism? Well, they fought for legislation that requires food stamp recipients to either work 20 hours a week, volunteer for an hour a day, or take a class to improve their knowledge and skills. If you want to keep on getting your food stamps beyond the three-month mark, you have to do one of these things. How awful. How evil.
If you look at it in the right way, it’s not inaccurate to call this a war on the poor. It’s just another name for the war on poverty. The goal is to eliminate the poor…by helping them earn enough money to rise out of their circumstances. How is that in any way cold or uncaring? Why would we want kids to throw their lives away so that the state can take care of them in perpetuity? That’s it’s not fair to taxpayers is the least of the problem. These Democrats are ruining lives under the guise of saving them.
If this is what it means to be evil in 2015, then this country could do with a lot more evil.