Roundup: Musgrave Takes Her Lie Show on the Road

Beth Saunders

Former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave teams up with the Susan B. Anthony List to spread lies about abortion in health reform, and a Wisconsin diocese is forbidding its employees from exercising the birth control option provided by their health insurance.

As reported on Rewire before, former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave has teamed up with the Susan B. Anthony list. Saying that she vowed “revenge” after losing her seat two years ago, the Washington Independent reports,

Musgrave started building a new war chest, this time for the SBA List’s “Votes Have Consequences” initiative to target legislators on issues relating to abortion. In a May 2009 fundraising letter, she pledged that the new effort would “spread the truth about [Democrats’] destructive agendas, drag down their approval ratings, force them to publicly defend socialism, authoritarian gun-grabbing, gay marriage, infanticide and everything else they vote for in Washington, and ultimately, on November 2, 2010 … take their jobs away from them.”

Now, during the campaign season for the 2010 midterm elections, Musgrave is taking the fight to the streets. Yesterday, the SBA List launched a bus tour through 23 cities in the battleground states of Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Traveling on the “Votes Have Consequences Express,” Musgrave and others are publicizing vulnerable Democrats’ support of the comprehensive health care reform bill — and arguing the new law will funnel taxpayers’ money into coverage for abortions, even though legal scholars, health care analysts and even some Republican politicians say the law does no such thing.

But why get bogged down with silly things like “the truth?” There are buses to paint! Lies to spread! People to harass! But a different pro-life group is protesting that pro-life group who is protesting members of Congress. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. Apparently that is the idea. Life News reports on the actions of Catholics United:

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Following through on its commitment to confused [stet] pro-life voters and support congressional candidates who voted for the pro-abortion health care bill, Catholics United, which claims to be pro-life, today staged a counterprotest at a pro-life bus tour event sponsored by a national pro-life group.

The Susan B. Anthony List is headed to Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania this week to let pro-life voters know the Democratic lawmakers they voted for whom they thought were pro-life wound up voting for a measure with massive abortion funding.

SBA List officials stopped their “Votes have Consequences” bus tour in Cincinnati today to let voters know how congressman Steve Driehaus voted for the pro-abortion health care bill. They were met by Catholics United officials who misled voters with “Thank you Steve Driehaus” and “SBA List: Stop Lying About Abortion Funding” signs.

“Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the religious right continues to spread lies about federal funding of abortion in service of a partisan agenda,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “These anti-health care reform activists are either woefully ignorant of the legislation or willfully misleading the public. In either case, this behavior has a corrosive effect on our public debate.”

Mini-Roundup: Take the pill, lose your job? A Wisconsin diocese has been forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees, but has warned that if it is used, it could be grounds for termination. Which begs the question – how would the diocese find out? Check your bum for the patch?

August 10

Clinics Challenge Louisiana Abortion Laws – Courthouse News Service

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Seeking Hyde – Indiana Gazette

Gov. Chris Christie pressured by anti-abortion groups – The State Column

House Members Condemn Obama Push for Pro-Abortion Kenya Constitution – LifeNews.com

India: mother murdered for refusing to kill newborn baby girl – Catholic Culture

McCollum: Homosexuals Shouldn’t Be Guiding Kids – CBS 4

“Choose Life” License Plates Cause Stir in New Jersey – Examiner.com

Report: Argentina not meeting women’s health needs – The Associated Press

when unrestricted abortion isn’t enough: the back-up plan – Catholic Culture

Catholics United Protests Pro-Life Group’s Bus Tour on Abortion-Health Care – LifeNews.com

Attitude towards contraception in Argentina puts women at risk – The Guardian

Argentina Faulted for Reproductive Policies – New York Times

Latinas and the High Cost of Birth Control – Huffington Post (blog)

Priest May Be Disciplined For Video Against Catholic Teachings – NewsChannel5.com

Family Planning Advocates Brace for Impact of Christie Veto – Patch

DC Promotes Female Condoms To Fight Against HIV Epidemic – Times News World (blog)

US Government Funded Study Establishing ‘Web-Based Sex Diaries’ for Gay Males … – CNSNews

Oral substitution therapy to curb HIV spread – Times of India

Massachusetts’ strict maternity leave ruling – Salon

HIV patients say doctors ignore their other problems, study says – Chicago Tribune

Lantana woman charged with having sex and not revealing she has HIV – Palm Beach Post

Will the Condom with Teeth Catch on in the United States? – Associated Content

New Latina coalition launches campaign for reproductive justice – Latina Lista (blog)

Should boys be vaccinated against human papilloma virus – Helium

‘Composed’ – New York Times

Prenatal smoke tied to poorer asthma-drug response – Reuters

Sex, Marriage and Upper Class Obligation – New York Times (blog)

August 11

Abortion kills a human – The Free Lance-Star

Anti-Abortion Billboard Raising Eyebrows in Midland – NewsWest9.com

Economic crisis rekindles Irish debate on abortion – Reuters India

As Midterm Campaigning Heats Up, Anti-Abortion Advocates Target Pro-Life Democrats – The Washington Independent

Wisconsin Diocese offers birth control insurance, but warns employees not to … – Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

‘The pill’ changed more than birth control
Joliet Herald News

Bible vs. birth control – OneNewsNow

Will the Condom with Teeth Catch on in the United States? – Associated Content

Only 74 Percent of Canadians Would Get HIV Vaccine: Study – TheBody.com

KENYA: HIV prevention for sex workers by sex workers – Plus News

Women don’t feel the motherly love – Berkshire Eagle

Community Members Sound off on Helena Sex-Ed Controversy – KFBB NewsChannel 5

Addressing Nepal’s high maternity death-rate – Independent

Pregnant Pause at the Pregnancy Resource Center – Salt Lake City Weekly

Commentary Politics

Democrats’ Latest Platform Silent on Discriminatory Welfare System

Lauren Rankin

The current draft of the 2016 Democratic Party platform contains some of the most progressive positions that the party has taken in decades. But there is a critical issue—one that affects millions in the United States—that is missing entirely from the draft: fixing our broken and discriminatory welfare system.

While the Republican Party has adopted one of the most regressive, punitive, and bigoted platforms in recent memory, the Democratic Party seems to be moving decisively in the opposite direction. The current draft of the 2016 Democratic Party platform contains some of the most progressive positions that the party has taken in decades. It calls for a federal minimum wage of $15; a full repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funding for abortion care; and a federal nondiscrimination policy to protect the rights of LGBTQ people.

All three of these are in direct response to the work of grassroots activists and coalitions that have been shifting the conversation and pushing the party to the left.

But there is a critical issue—one that affects millions in the United States—that is missing entirely from the party platform draft: fixing our broken and discriminatory welfare system.

It’s been 20 years since President Bill Clinton proudly declared that “we are ending welfare as we know it” when he signed into law a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. welfare system. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 implemented dramatic changes to welfare payments and eligibility, putting in place the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In the two decades since its enactment, TANF has not only proved to be blatantly discriminatory, but it has done lasting damage.

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In one fell swoop, TANF ended the federal guarantee of support to low-income single mothers that existed under the now-defunct Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. AFDC had become markedly unpopular and an easy target by the time President Clinton signed welfare reform legislation into law, with the racist, mythic trope of the “welfare queen” becoming pervasive in the years leading up to AFDC’s demise.

Ronald Reagan popularized this phrase while running for president in 1976 and it caught fire, churning up public resentment against AFDC and welfare recipients, particularly Black women, who were painted as lazy and mooching off the government. This trope underwrote much of conservative opposition to AFDC; among other things, House Republican’s 1994 “Contract with America,” co-authored by Newt Gingrich, demanded an end to AFDC and vilified teen mothers and low-income mothers with multiple children.

TANF radically restructured qualifications for welfare assistance, required that recipients sustain a job in order to receive benefits, and ultimately eliminated the role of the federal state in assisting poor citizens. The promise of AFDC and welfare assistance more broadly, including SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps) benefits, is that the federal government has an inherent role of caring for and providing for its most vulnerable citizens. With the implementation of TANF, that promise was deliberately broken.

At the time of its passage, Republicans and many Democrats, including President Bill Clinton, touted TANF as a means of motivating those receiving assistance to lift themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps, meaning they would now have to work while receiving benefits. But the idea that those in poverty can escape poverty simply by working harder and longer evades the fact that poverty is cyclical and systemic. Yet, that is what TANF did: It put the onus for ending poverty on the individual, rather than dealing with the structural issues that perpetuate the state of being in poverty.

TANF also eliminated any federal standard of assistance, leaving it up to individual states to determine not only the amount of financial aid that they provide, but what further restrictions state lawmakers wish to place on recipients. Not only that, but the federal TANF program instituted a strict, lifetime limit of five years for families to receive aid and a two-year consecutive limit, which only allows an individual to receive two years of consecutive aid at a time. If after five total years they still require assistance to care for their family and themself, no matter their circumstances, they are simply out of luck.

That alone is an egregious violation of our inalienable constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Still, TANF went a step further: It also allowed states to institute more pernicious, discriminatory policies. In order to receive public assistance benefits through TANF, low-income single mothers are subjected to intense personal scrutiny, sexual and reproductive policing, and punitive retribution that does not exist for public assistance recipients in programs like Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs, programs that Democrats not only continue to support, but use as a rallying cry. And yet, few if any Democrats are crying out for a more just welfare system.

There are so many aspects of TANF that should motivate progressives, but perhaps none more than the family cap and forced paternity identification policies.

Welfare benefits through the TANF program are most usually determined by individual states based on household size, and family caps allow a state to deny welfare recipients’ additional financial assistance after the birth of another child. At least 19 states currently have family cap laws on the books, which in some cases allow the state to deny additional assistance to recipients who give birth to another child. 

Ultimately, this means that if a woman on welfare becomes pregnant, she is essentially left with deciding between terminating her pregnancy or potentially losing her welfare benefits, depending on which state she lives in. This is not a free and valid choice, but is a forced state intervention into the private reproductive practices of the women on welfare that should appall and enrage progressive Democrats.

TANF’s “paternafare,” or forced paternity identification policy, is just as egregious. Single mothers receiving TANF benefits are forced to identify the father of their children so that the state may contact and demand financial payment from them. This differs from nonwelfare child support payments, in which the father provides assistance directly to the single mother of his child; this policy forces the fathers of low-income single women on welfare to give their money directly to the state rather than the mother of their child. For instance, Indiana requires TANF recipients to cooperate with their local county prosecutor’s child support program to establish paternity. Some states, like Utah, lack an exemption for survivors of domestic violence as well as children born of rape and incest, as Anna Marie Smith notes in her seminal work Welfare Reform and Sexual Regulation. This means that survivors of domestic violence may be forced to identify and maintain a relationship with their abusers, simply because they are enrolled in TANF.

The reproductive and sexual policing of women enrolled in TANF is a deeply discriminatory and unconstitutional intrusion. And what’s also disconcerting is that the program has failed those enrolled in it.

TANF was created to keep single mothers from remaining on welfare rolls for an indeterminate amount of time, but also with the express goal of ensuring that these young women end up in the labor force. It was touted by President Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans as a realistic, work-based solution that could lift single mothers up out of poverty and provide opportunities for prosperity. In reality, it’s been a failure, with anywhere from 42 to 74 percent of those who exited the program remaining poor.

As Jordan Weissmann detailed over at Slate, while the number of women on welfare decreased significantly since 1996, TANF left in its wake a new reality: “As the rolls shrank, a new generation of so-called disconnected mothers emerged: single parents who weren’t working, in school, or receiving welfare to support themselves or their children. According to [the Urban Institute’s Pamela] Loprest, the number of these women rose from 800,000 in 1996 to 1.2 million in 2008.” Weissmann also noted that researchers have found an uptick in “deep or extreme poverty” since TANF went into effect.

Instead of a system that enables low-income single mothers a chance to escape the cycle of poverty, what we have is a racist system that denies aid to those who need it most, many of whom are people of color who have been and remain systemically impoverished.

The Democratic Party platform draft has an entire plank focused on how to “Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class,” but what about those in poverty? What about the discriminatory and broken welfare system we have in place that ensures not only that low-income single mothers feel stigmatized and demoralized, but that they lack the supportive structure to even get to the middle class at all? While the Democratic Party is developing strategies and potential policies to support the middle class, it is neglecting those who are in need the most, and who are suffering the most as a result of President Bill Clinton’s signature legislation.

While the national party has not budged on welfare reform since President Bill Clinton signed the landmark legislation in 1996, there has been some state-based movement. Just this month, New Jersey lawmakers, led by Democrats, passed a repeal of the state’s family cap law, which was ultimately vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie. California was more successful, though: The state recently repealed its Maximum Family Grant rule, which barred individuals on welfare from receiving additional aid when they had more children.

It’s time for the national Democratic Party to do the same. For starters, the 2016 platform should include a specific provision calling for an end to family cap laws and forced paternity identification. If the Democratic Party is going to be the party of reproductive freedom—demonstrated by its call to repeal both the federal Hyde and Helms amendments—that must include women who receive welfare assistance. But the Democrats should go even further: They must embrace and advance a comprehensive overhaul of our welfare system, reinstating the federal guarantee of financial support. The state-based patchwork welfare system must be replaced with a federal welfare assistance program, one that provides educational incentives as well as a base living wage.

Even President Bill Clinton and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton both acknowledge that the original welfare reform bill had serious issues. Today, this bill and its discriminatory legacy remain a progressive thorn in the side of the Democratic Party—but it doesn’t have to be. It’s time for the party to admit that welfare reform was a failure, and a discriminatory one at that. It’s time to move from punishment and stigma to support and dignity for low-income single mothers and for all people living in poverty. It’s time to end TANF.

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

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Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.