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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Actions speak louder...

A central tenet of Republican conservative philosophy is that work is better than welfare (at least for people if not corporations). So it's interesting to see how a welfare-to-work program, laden with "incentives" for business, has fallen flat on its face.

The Globe notes a centerpiece of the state's efforts to "end welfare as we know it" lies in disrepair today -- the result of endless rules aimed at employers who were supposed to use cash incentives (you know, publicly funded handouts) to put people to work.

And what, you may ask, is a common thread to this story: benign (or malignant) neglect from a series of four Republican governors whose party espouses the tough love approach toward workers, if not employers. Not to mention a distaste for government "red tape."

The Globe notes how the 1984-ishly named Department of Transitional Assistance failed at the basics, like letting employers know there was a program in place. Listen to the longtime president of the state's largest retail trade association:
Nobody has promoted it to me or my members," said Jon Hurst, who has been head of the 2,700-member Retailers Association of Massachusetts for 16 years.
For those who knew about the program, the risks-rewards ratio was out of whack, the Globe reports, noting that under the program, employers who agree to give a welfare recipient a full-time job receive a $2.50-an-hour wage subsidy in the first year. If that employee is kept on after the first year, the employer receives a maximum $1,200 annual tax credit (with no wage subsidy) depending on how long the employee stays.

"The tax credit in and of itself will not be a determining factor in who gets hired," said William Nofsker, a Haverhill businessman who chaired a welfare-to-work advisory committee in 1996 under Governor William F. Weld. "The perk does not create jobs."

So we have tax credits -- but no training programs. Requirements that say education can't qualify as work, then failing to generate the jobs that can.

Maybe Mitt Romney wants to talk about this success on the campaign trail when he's not flip-flipping about some other "deeply held" conservative value.

Weld. Cellucci. Swift. Romney. Four Republican governors looking to teach responsibility (when they weren't looking for better jobs for themselves). It will be interesting to see what the "tax and spend" liberals can do to get people into productive jobs.

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