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Fox News Suggests We Should Do Away With Welfare

Reported by Ellen - June 14, 2009 -

Co-authored by Brian

On Saturday's (6/13/09) Bulls & Bears, one of Fox News' supposed business shows, the "Cavuto mark" of a question for discussion was, as host Brenda Buttner asked in the teaser beforehand, “Time to say 'hasta la vista' to welfare in America? (a banner on the lower third of the screen read, “WIPE OUT WELFARE?”) What Arnold (Schwarzenegger) wants to do that someone here says our president needs to do as well. Did we finally find the money fix for America? Comin’ up.” Buttner forgot to mention that Schwarzenegger’s plan is, according to the Mercury News, “if not dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, then on life support.”

Fox Business Network's Eric Bolling agreed with Gov. Arnold Sczhwarzenegger on abolishing welfare. "Atta boy, you tell Barack Obama, Arnold. Good job... States can't print money. The federal government can print money, so they keep expanding spending, and keep printing. States can't do that, so they have to cut spending, cut welfare spending. Obama should take a lesson from this, and that would be a better way rather than continuing to print money, which is only going to cause inflation and higher prices down the road."

Buttner correctly noted, "Welfare is a pretty small part of the budget." (NPR estimated California's welfare costs to be $1.3 billion whereas their budget shortfall is $22 billion.

Tobin Smith agreed, but said, “I think Eric’s point is great in terms of actually coming to grips with reality. But unfortunately, the welfare numbers that come out of the federal side are relatively small.”

As usual, there was only one progressive voice on the 5-person panel. This week, it was Regina Calcaterra, Democratic strategist. And for a change, viewers also got the perspective, albeit briefly, of someone below the upper middle class. Calcaterra revealed that she had been homeless herself, living in cars and behind supermarkets with her four siblings. "We should never get rid of (welfare). No municipality, state, or federal government should ever think about balancing the budget on the back of welfare recipients, people who desperately need it, and the reason why is because the majority of people who are on welfare are children, and there are 77 million impoverished children in this nation who rely upon food stamps to eat, Medicaid to fix their injuries or illnesses, and home heating assistance programs so they don’t freeze to death." She said that if the assistance is not provided, poor parents who can’t take care of their children will either “forfeit them to the state" or the state will have to come in and take them. In that case, the kids would be placed in foster care, which would add court costs and costs for social workers. “So all you’re doing is transferring costs by eliminating a welfare system.”

Gary B. Smith said, “It’s tough to come back after Regina’s story,” but he gave it his best shot anyway. “Since 1965, the government has spent almost 10 trillion dollars on welfare and yet poverty levels remain the same... So why are we spending all this money just to maintain the status quo.”

Answer: to keep people from starving, from freezing to death and from going without medical care. Smith seemed to think those benefits irrelevant and insubstantial. “If we spent that much money, we should see some cause and effect,” he groused.

Buttner, no liberal, said to guest Pat Dorsey, “Actually, the programs that we should be looking at are not necessarily welfare, right?”

Dorsey agreed, saying there are “bigger fish to fry.” He added that welfare is maybe “a percent and a quarter” of the federal budget.

Bolling now claimed. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of cutting welfare checks to homeless and starving children... I’m saying, ‘trim the fat.’ It’s one way of doing it. There are plenty of other areas that we can cut wasteful spending... I’m not saying cut welfare out, I’m saying ‘use fiscal responsibility.’” Actually, “Atta boy, you tell Barack Obama, Arnold. Good job... cut welfare spending” is exactly what he had just said. And he said that after Buttner had teased the segment by saying, "What Arnold wants to do that someone here says our president needs to do as well." If that's not what Bolling wants to do, why didn't he say so?

Gary B. Smith took it further, saying, “If we go down that path, we should cut whole departments of the government out. Why do we need a Department of Education for crying out loud? But don’t get me started on that. Eric is absolutely right."

Tobin Smith said, “Empathy is so difficult because in our effort to try to do well, unfortunately, many times government does worse. That’s sort of the irony of government spending.”

Comment: For you, maybe, but probably not for the millions who have been saved from starving, from freezing and from going without medical care.

Unfortunately, Calcaterra, the only one who had actually needed welfare (and considering how far she's come since, it's hard to argue Gary B. Smith didn't get his money out of her) never got another chance to speak in the discussion.