The federal government is still uninterested in the no-win scenarios that the unemployed poor often find themselves in. Where states do not meet strict quotas for welfare roll trims, they get hurt. Take Indiana for example:
The federal government is warning Indiana it faces a $10 million penalty for not moving enough welfare recipients into jobs and off of public rolls in 2005.
That office's director, Sidonie Squier, says Indiana fell short of its target for the rate of welfare households participating in job training. The target was 33.4%, but the rate was only 30.9%.
The penalty would mean the loss of approximately 5% of the state's federal block grant for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The grant pays for financial aid, job training, child care, child abuse prevention and other programs targeting Indiana's needy.
The last paragraph is definitely the kicker. We've learned that the Bush administration does not mind punishing poor students by removing what funding they do receive. And now Indiana will face a shortage of funds to pay for, among other things, job training because it has not trained enough people for jobs.
Rather than recognizing structural challenges and re-evaluating policies, the Bush administration rules with rigid mandates. And instead of providing services to the neediest parts of the country, they compound existing problems with harsh reprisals. It's a reinvention of the welfare state, not as a human service but as a more powerful tool to force compliance with an agenda that is at least as anti-poor as it is anti-poverty.