The very first YouCut “winner” was the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF ECF), which was created as part of the stimulus package. Here’s what some key GOP lawmakers had to say about the program at the time:
REP. TOM PRICE (R-GA): I’m so pleased to announce that the first program that got over 275,000 votes to cut, to do away with, is a crazy one that actually incentivizes people not to work. That’s right!
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA): Not only is the new program unaffordable and duplicative, it undercuts welfare reforms made in the mid-1990s that saved taxpayers billions of dollars.
Of course, the GOP’s claims about the program had little basis in reality, as the TANF ECF is actually a successful jobs program that helps needy families and subsidizes job creation, including placing young Americans in summer jobs. And, as it turns out, the program has created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. In fact, it is on pace to help 240,000 unemployed individuals find jobs by the end of September.
Price’s Georgia has actually been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the program, with 20,000 jobs created in the state. Only four states — Texas, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania — owe more jobs to the program.
“States are using funds from the TANF Emergency Fund to provide jobs to individuals least likely to find employment on their own: TANF recipients, the long-term unemployed, and low-income youth. These also are the individuals who are most likely to spend virtually all of the money they earn, thus making this an effective mechanism to stimulate the local economy,” wrote LaDonna Pavetti of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Yet, the House GOP feels that this program is the epitome of government waste and needs to be tossed by the wayside.
Unfortunately, the TANF ECF is running low on funds and will expire at the end of September if Congress doesn’t reauthorize it. Already, the Senate has voted down a reauthorization once. But in the states where it is helping, the program has significant Republican support. Georgia State Senator Renee Unterman (R) said that “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.”