13 Myths Promoted by the Far Right in Support of Their "Contract With America"

By R. Cowan and B. Mandell

Myth 1: The Contract with America is needed to cut the deficit.
	Fact: According to a table "Cost Estimates for 'Contract with
America'" released by the Republican-controlled House Budget
Committee, the Contract will increase the deficit by $147.9 billion
over 5 years. The contract proposes no decrease in military spending,
and cuts of $45 billion in programs for the poor. The contract
proposes $170 billion in tax cuts alone.

Myth 2: Most students should be able to pay their own tuition by working; 
those who now receive financial aid should feel guilty.
	Fact: Without student aid all tuition would run $15,000 a
year, and most people who can now attend college would be unable to
attend. Already, a large number of potential students cannot even
afford to attend state or community college. According to a survey in
January 1995 conducted by the American Council on Education, 76% of
the public opposes cuts in student aid as a means of reducing the
deficit. Governments spending on education is viewed as a necessary
investment in the future by many countries. In Mexico, Canada, Cuba,
and much of Europe, students pay little or no tuition.

Myth 3: Cutting welfare is necessary to balance the budget.
	Fact: AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children) is only
$22 billion according to the Boston Globe (1% of total federal
spending). By comparison, the federal savings and loan bailout cost
$150 billion, and the US military budget was $281 billion in 1994.
Huge deficits were not created until 1981 when military spending was
doubled, and when the progressive taxation system established during
the Dwight Eisenhower administration was destroyed by the Phil Gramm/
Warren Rudman tax bill.

Myth 4: "Special interest groups" got us into this budgetary mess and 
should be punished.
	Fact: According to Ralph Nader, more than $150 Billion a year
is spent by the government on "corporate welfare" that favors the
special interests of particular companies and industries than on
programs helping women, students and children, the poor, and minority
communities. Considering all the other program our tax money pays for,
aren't student aid, school breakfast and lunch, and the social safety
net some of the best places to put that money? The new Congressional
leadership was soft on corporate welfare until mid-March 1995, when
they responded to criticism with a proposed $7.6 billion cut, a drop
in the bucket.

Myth 5: The results of the last election are a mandate for a
right-wing "revolution."
	Fact: Only 20% of the people eligible to vote did so in the
last election. Of these, only 51% voted for Republican candidates
endorsing the "Contract With America." The Right has organized a vocal
minority to oppose all social programs and support all military and
prison programs. Despite what we are led to believe by the Rush
Limbaugh talk show, the people are not as meanspirited as some of the
proposals in the "contract." We must awaken and organize the
now-silent majority who support compassionate and constructive
spending by the government.

Myth 6: Immigrants are costing the U.S. lots of money and hurting
other working people.
	Fact: The United States is a nation of immigrants. With the
exception of Native Americans, all of us are in this country as
voluntary or involuntary immigrants or as the descendants of
immigrants. Many of our ancestors were scapegoated during times of
economic crisis. In fact, according to Boston's Campaign for Immigrant
Rights, a lower percentage of immigrants receives welfare assistance
than the US-born population. Immigrants pay taxes at the rate of one
and a half times what they receive in services.

Myth 7: People who make money make it all on their own and therefore
should keep it all.
	Fact: Our ability to make money depends on the entire society
- roads, bridges, research, education, etc. Our lives are connected to
the lives of others who, working less than we do or working harder,
may be less "self-sufficient" than we are. When we earn a paycheck, it
is only fair that some of that money be invested in the infrastructure
for future generations, or to ensure the survival needs of others who
may be less fortunate.

Myth 8: The contract is going to pass, so why protest?
	Fact: The president of the country has power to veto
legislation. Bill Clinton has every right to exercise his veto power;
the only question is, will he? We have time before the 1996 election
to turn public opinion around by educating ourselves and our
communities about the right's agenda. This action will make it more
politically acceptable for the President to veto the destructive
portions of the "Contract With America."

Myth 9: The "Contract With America" demonstrate concern for families
and children.
	Fact: If the Personal Responsibility Act [sic] were in effect
today, well over half of the children now eligible for Aid to Families
with Dependent Children (AFDC) would be denied assistance. This could
mean six million poor children without AFDC. Other cuts could mean
200,000 children expelled from Head Start; 200,000 kicked out of day
care, 7.5 million without school lunches, 2 million pregnant women &
their infant denied food and milk, 900,000 disabled children receiving
SSI losing benefits.

Myth 10: the contract stays away from controversial issues such as
abortion and homosexuality.
	Fact: the Taking Back our Streets Act [sic] would cut of funds
used to defend abortion clinics. And in early February, a bill was
introduced in both the House and Senate that would bar the use of
federal funds to "directly or indirectly" condone or accept
homosexuality [H.R. 862 and S. 317].

Myth 11: The states can better take care of social needs than the
federal government. Proposals to transfer money to the states through
block grants would be more efficient.
	Fact: Block grants as proposed in the Personal Responsibility
Act would drastically reduce the amount of money available for these
programs. For example, federal food assistance would decline by
approximately $17.5 billion over four years. States would be forced to
ration AFDC, SSI, and food stamps or raise taxes. States would compete
against each other to reduce benefits and keep taxes low in order to
attract new business. In times of economic downturn, people would
starve as they did during the Great Depression.
	Welfare programs such as General Relief financed entirely by
states are always the first to be cut. Michigan has entirely abolished
its General Relief program, with a resultant increase in hunger and
homelessness. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "The
Personal Responsibility Act: An Analysis, 1995"]

Myth 12: Welfare causes teenage pregnancy.
	Fact: Research shows that there is no correlation between
welfare grants and the rate of births. Since the early 1970s, welfare
benefits have fallen sharply in purchasing power while out-of-wedlock
childbearing among teens and older women rose. The teen birth rate in
the United States is much higher than that in other western
industrialized countries having more generous welfare benefits.
[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "The Personal
Responsibility Act: An Analysis, 1995"]

Myth 13: The congress is only cutting a few social programs, and
leaving most intact. Why worry?
	Fact: Some Republicans and Democrats in Congress have even
suggested the elimination of Pell Grants, Social Security, and
Medicaid. Although such cuts may not pass this year, there is every
reason to believe that they are next on the chopping block. Look at
the propaganda of one radical-right thinktank dedicated to the
"elimination, not the reduction or reform, of the welfare state," and
judge for yourself:
	The Welfare state still stalks the land, sucking the blood out
of the living, creating new zombies...We must have the understanding
and the courage to say that the "social justice" is compulsory
redistributive plunder; that the vast majority of society's ills today
are not the product of market forces, but the result of a century of
increasing state control and planning over every corner of our lives;
that the welfare state is socialism; that political paternalism, no
matter how packaged and labeled, is a false utopian promise of
security; that reform and reconstruction cannot make the welfare state
work; [and] that everything that the state has taken under its control
or political influence must be privatized" (Freedom Daily, January
1995, p. 20, newsletter of the Future of Freedom Foundation.)
	Policies such as denying AFDC benefits to unmarried mothers
under 18 (or 21if states choose), refusing benefits to additional
children born while a mother receives AFDC, and cutting off benefits
after two years would make it impossible for parents to provide basic
necessities for thi their children. Rather than watch their children
starve, some parents would give them up to foster care or
institutional placements. The child welfare system is already
overburdened with the task of finding appropriate homes for children
who have been abused or neglected; as a result, children often
languish in inadequate care for long periods of time.
	Increases in poverty, homelessness, and hunger would almost
certainly result, and states would likely end up paying a greater
share of the costs of the programs for the poor." (Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities, "The Personal Responsibility Act: An
Analysis.")  


[thistle homepage] [Volume 9] [9.4 - contents]