Kay Johnson reports in the Hutchinson Leader article, Democracy was in action at town hall meeting:
Gruenhagen pointed the finger at the Minnesota Family Investment Program, which helps families with children meet their basic needs, while helping parents move to financial stability through work.
“Our welfare system is undermining the family system,” he told the audience of about 20.
While Gruenhagen has been criticized for waging a war on poor people, he believes reducing waste and fraud will result in more money being available for those who are eligible.
“(We) subsidize as a government promoting women having children out of wedlock,” he said. “You cannot print up enough money to take care of all the problems and you’re talking to somebody who did 13 years of jail ministry without pay and I was glad to do it. ... People are still responsible for their actions, but when a government subsidizes the destruction of the two-parent family ... get behind me and people like me to reform the system, get rid of the waste and abuse and begin restoring the traditional family instead of penalizing it ...”
What's wrong with the Minnesota Family Investment Program?
This notion that the Minnesota Family Investment Program is intended to destroy families is nothing new as far as the things that fly out of Gruenhagen's mouth go. But before we review that malicious history, it's worth looking at the program that Gruenhagen is trashing.
In Bill would boost welfare benefits for first time in 30 years, the Minnesota Spokesman Record's Charles Hallman reports:
The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) is designed to help low-income families and pregnant women with job skills and income assistance. However, a Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid report released in February found that the program has not been adjusted for inflation since 1986.
If families meet “an initial income test, an initial asset limit of $2,000, and provide needed verifications” the MFIP provides in return a monthly benefit that includes cash and food assistance. An unemployed single parent with two children, for example, can get $532 and food benefits of $446.
The participant receives job training, must seek employment for at least 30 hours per week for up to six weeks, and gets their GED if under age 20 and didn’t finish high school.
“What someone was getting [in assistance] in 1986 is the same amount of money they would be getting today,” explained State Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis) in a recent conversation with the MSR. ...
“We know [those receiving assistance from the MFIP] want to work and do better,” continued Hayden. “This is an opportunity to give them the basic dollars for them and their family to survive. They still need help in job skills to take care of themselves.”
Also, there is a 60-month time limit in the MFIP program, Hayden pointed out. “They have five years to use the benefits, and [after that] they’re gone.”
These are the details of the program that Gruenhagen believes exists to destroy families--and this isn't the first time Gruenhagen frames MFIP in these terms.
2013: Gruenhagen claims "welfare" tells men to "impregnate as many women as they want"
On a 2013 House floor debate, Gruenhagen claimed "welfare" encouraged black men to "impregnate as many women as they want." Bluestem reported:
In today's debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives, firebrand Representative and insurance agent Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) introduced amendments--and controversy--into the fractious debate over HF5, a bill to create a state-run health care exchange.
Fresh from his controversial statements last week about marriage equality and the nature of same-sex attraction, Gruenhagen dove in with a claim that "welfare" programs were responsible for out-of-wedlock births among "minorities"--and so the health care exchange might further erode traditional marriage:
When a country undermines traditional marriage, it cannot print up enough money to take care of all the problems that happen in our society. And we need to look no further than our welfare program and the black families in this country. Prior to the great society programs of the 60s the out of wedlock birth among black families was approximately, or was under 20 percent. Today that in the inner city, the out of wedlock birth for black families is over 80 percent. And one of the primary reasons for that is that we have developed government programs that will pick up the tab for having children out of wedlock. The result is we exploit our women, we create a bad situation for our children, especially minorities and we tell men that they can impregnate as many women as they want and the government will pick up the tab. I think we need to stop that philosophy not expand it as the ah.. with the credit in the health insurance exchange. Thank you. Representative….
That was too much for House Health and Human Services Policy Committee Chair, Representative Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester):
Thank you madam speaker. I think we're pretty far afield here from the bill and even from the amendment with some of the comments that have been made. But I think it's just really important to at least correct the record in one respect. First of all, in Minnesota right now when people are on our MInnesota Family Investment Program, what a lot of people like to call welfare, and they have an additional child, they don't get any more money. They don't get more money. And what they do get is very, very low. So we have a welfare program that does not incentivise anybody to be on welfare. No rational person would want to be on welfare with what they get here and they certainly not incentivised to have any additional children.
We pointed out that Gruenhagen had made similar statements before:
In 2010, the Sibley County Republican Party posted a pdf (now removed) of an early version of Health Care in Crisis: Is Government the Solution or the Problem?, a book Gruenhagen would publish with Alethos Press in 2010. In the earlier version, Gruenhagen wrote:
. . .Consider our government run welfare system. After spending approximately $6.5 trillion to eliminate poverty, the poverty rate in this country is the same or worse than when the government declared war on poverty over 40 years ago. Government run welfare programs are little more than a government subsidized prostitution program paying extra money to women who have children out of wedlock. This has contributed to over a 70% out of wedlock birth rate for Americans with an African heritage. Also, welfare provides financial support to able bodied men instead of incentives for an honest days work. . . .(page 6)
In the kindle version of the 2012 book, Gruenhagen has moderated his language:
Government run welfare programs are like a subsidized surrogacy system that provides financial rewards to women who give birth to children out of wedlock. This creates even more dependency on government. Today, more than 70 percent of births to African-American women are out of wedlock. Dr. Alan Keyes, in Masters of the Dream, showed that even during slavery, less than 17 percent of babies were born to single women whose men may not have been married to them (in the sense of civil law) but were with them at birth. In 1965, as the welfare war commenced, Keyes showed that 17 percent of African-American babies were born out of wedlock. Federal welfare programs destroyed the African-American family.
Government welfare programs provide financial support to able-bodied men instead of strong incentives for an honest day’s work. . . .(Chapter 6)
The notion that "welfare" might harm African-American families was popularized by the late U.S. Senator and Kennedy administration official Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but there's no consensus about causal relationships between out-of-wedlock births, race, and income. Indeed, some authorities suggest that lack of economic opportunity itself leads to lower marriage rates.
There's that. Another point that Minnesota's black leaders are raising is that mass incarceration--and the difficulties ex-offenders find in finding jobs while re-uniting with their families--destroys families. Perhaps Gruenhagen would benefit from attending a town hall in Senator Jeff Hayden's district.
Photo: Glenn Gruenhagen marching in a parade.
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