Public-assistance bills put Oklahoma GOP members in a tough spot

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: March 10, 2013
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Brooks, writing in The Wall Street Journal, said Republicans hurt themselves when the package of moral values they push doesn't include caring for the most vulnerable. Brooks is hardly sympathetic to liberals, who talk “a big game about helping the bottom half, which will have catastrophic results once the safety net is no longer affordable.”

The core argument Republicans need to make is that Barack Obama's Democrats are gradually destroying the safety net with irresponsible policies. This is an intellectual argument that won't easily translate into votes. As long as Obama and company can paint Republicans as uncaring aristocrats, they will suffer at the ballot box. But in some races they also benefit.

Which brings us back to Oklahoma and the public-assistance crackdown. Shannon and other lawmakers hear from voters who feel cheated by a system they pay for but which doesn't benefit them directly. They've seen (or think they've seen) instances of food stamp recipients behaving badly. So bills are filed to crack down on perceived welfare fraud.

Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, is the author of one such bill. It would bar benefits to those with $5,000 or more in “liquid assets.” He said he's heard from constituents who “often have to resort to bologna sandwiches for lunch” while welfare recipients who've made poor choices are subsidized by taxpayer dollars. In other words, at the anecdotal level, taxpayers are doing the math. At another level, though, Americans are rejecting what Brooks calls the faulty moral arithmetic of the GOP platform.

Somehow, Republicans must convince voters that the fuzzy math of the Democrats means we'll all be having bologna for lunch and the poor will be worse off than they are now.


by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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