Friday, May 8, 2009

GOP at it again, blame Patrick for Romney's "wheels for welfare" program

I begrudgingly have to give state Republicans credit...they have been doing a great job manufacturing outrage over programs that began under a governor they supported. A couple of months ago, they tried to blame Deval Patrick for Mitt Romney's attempt to collect sales tax on New Hampshire businesses. Now they are going after the governor for another program started during the Romney administration:
Gov. Deval Patrick’s free wheels for welfare recipients program is revving up despite the stalled economy, as the keys to donated cars loaded with state-funded insurance, repairs and even AAA membership are handed out to get them to work....

The program, which started in 2006, distributes cars donated by non-profit charities such as Good News Garage, a Lutheran charity, which also does the repair work on the car and bills the state.

Kehoe defended the program, saying the state breaks even by cutting welfare payments to the family - about $6,000 a year.

“If you look at the overall picture, this helps make sure people aren’t staying on cash assistance. It’s a relatively short payment for a long-term benefit,” Kehoe said.
First, the Boston Herald also incorrectly (or misleadingly) calls it Patrick's program, although a follow-up today does mention that the program began under Romney (the Herald also claims the program began in 2006, but reports from the Department of Transitional Assistance show that it began in 2003). Beyond that, this seems like the perfect Republican program. It hits the following big time Republican positions:

1. The Good News Garage is a Lutheran charity, which means that this is a faith-based program, long a favorite cause of social-conservative Republicans who want more government money to go to churches.

2. It reduces direct cash aid to welfare recipients.

3. It helps move people off welfare and into work.

It was such a good Republican program that none of the Republicans in the State House were interested in killing it during the time that the Romney government funded and administered the program. I wonder what changed.

(And before someone replies that opinions have changed because of the economic crisis, remember that when the Romney administration program started in 2003, the state was also facing a billion-dollar deficit).

So, because of their blind opposition to the current governor, State House Republicans are going to try to kill a plan that moves people off welfare and into jobs, lowers welfare payments, and helps keep a faith-based program afloat.

That's not leadership, that's obstructionism. It's also all Massachusetts Republicans have to offer.

Update: Here is a memo dated May 22, 2006, with Mitt Romney's name on the masthead, outlining the program.

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