Congressman McDermott Blasts Republicans’ Deceptive Claims About TANF Emergency Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–May 18, 2010.  In their new “YouCut” project, House Republicans call for the elimination of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF ECF) describing it as a “new non-reformed welfare program.”  One slight problem: the program they describe does not exist. TANF ECF does not include a program that would “incentivize” States to increase the number of people on welfare or allow States to increase the number of people receiving assistance without requiring people to engage in work-related activities.  These Republican claims are simply false.

“You must forgive my shock to hear that Congressional Republicans don’t think we need to help people who are suffering during the recession created by President Bush and his party’s leadership in Congress,” said Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Jim McDermott (D-WA). “They are so out of touch that they have deceived people about a program that Republicans outside the beltway think is a good thing.   The recession has caused unprecedented need for many struggling families with children and the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund helps states meet that demand but is also responsible for directly funding 185,000 jobs.  I can think of few ideas Republicans have floated that have been as devoid of compassion and commonsense as this one.”

The TANF ECF, is a temporary program, established by the Recovery Act to help States with increasing expenditures on: basic assistance for families in the TANF program; short-term, one-time aid for needy families; and subsidized employment programs (such programs temporarily pay for the wages of a worker in a public or private sector job).  The program requires States to contribute funds for every new person served, so there is no financial “incentive” for States to increase the number of people receiving assistance.  In reality, the TANF ECF is expected to create 185,000 jobs for TANF recipients and others struggling to find work in addition to helping families that are trying to make ends meet while finding their next job opportunity.

This program has the strong support of several Republicans. Haley Barbour, the Republican Governor of Mississippi, called the TANF ECF a welfare to work program.  In fact, a number of Republicans outside the Washington beltway have lauded the TANF ECF as an effective mechanism to create jobs and help families (see below).


Who supports the TANF ECF –

On a bipartisan basis, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Association of Counties have all urged Congress to continue the TANF Emergency Fund as a way to create jobs and help families.

Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) writes, “Given the state of the labor market, it is hard to imagine how any sensible person could oppose [extending the emergency fund].”  “If they are to be more than the party of no, Republicans need to rally around the Democrats who have shown such reserved pragmatism.”


Here’s what Republicans outside of Congress are saying about the TANF Emergency Fund.

Michael Rounds (R), Governor of South Dakota (in 3/3/10 letter from the National Governors Association to Congress):

States use the TANF ECF “to help speed economic recovery through subsidized employment and training programs, and vital financial and supportive service offerings for needy families facing increased hardship.”

“We urge you to support extending the TANF ECF.”

Don Knabe (R), Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, County of Los Angles (in a 2/9/10 letter to Members of the California Congressional Delegation):

“For California, the TANF ECF has been overwhelmingly successful.”  It has enabled the State “to better meet the needs of low-income families, create jobs, and stimulate the economy.”

“California Counties are on track to create 20,000 to 25,000 subsidized jobs by this summer.”  “More jobs are needed in California, and the ECF is an important tool for creating them now.”

Renee Unterman (R), State Senator, Georgia (in a 2/18/10 National Conference of State Legislatures Letter to Congress):

“….states found TANF ECF essential in the rebuilding of our economy, especially by helping those who have lost their jobs in the recession to find new, stable employment.”

“It is imperative to maintain the capacity of the TANF ECF program to improve the lives of those hardest hit by the current economic conditions.”

Haley Barbour (R), Governor of Mississippi (2/17/10 New York Times Article):

“It’s welfare to work.”

The article reported, “Mr. Barbour said he hoped the program would be extended so more jobs could be created.”


Click here to view the letters.