The Republican Party should be ashamed of spreading disinformation about President Obama’s welfare policies. It is trying to use using divisiveness and fear to gain at the ballot box.

Playing the race card and reviving old and inaccurate welfare stereotypes is just plain wrong.

The Romney campaign is running an ad called “Right Choice,” which claims that the Obama administration has changed the rules so that instead of hewing to existing work requirements, welfare recipients would receive their checks anyway for doing nothing.

“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” the ad states. “They just send you your welfare check, and ‘welfare to work’ goes back to being plain old welfare.”

First, there is an irony to the Republican attack, which lies in the fact that this change came about as part of the Obama administration’s desire to shift more power to the states in their decisions on how to administer Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. Yielding to states’ rights is a Republican hallmark, and a couple of Republican governors even sought this change from the Obama administration.

But worse, there is no suspension of work requirements, only a waiver to allow states more input into how to define what kind of work meets them.

“The ad’s claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance,” notes the Tampa Bay Tribune’s “politifact” checker.

This brand of negative politics plays on race-associated fears among middle-class whites, something the Republican Party has a long history of doing. Who can forget President Reagan’s classic “Welfare Queen” speech or presidential candidate George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton ad?

In the current welfare debate, three facts need to be kept in mind here.

Number one: Poor whites outnumber any other racial demographic on welfare.

Number two: Poor children of all colors account for a majority of those on welfare.

Number three: The welfare rolls have been shrinking dramatically.

“Compared with the 1990s peak, the national welfare rolls are still down by 68 percent,” the New York Times reported earlier this year. “Just one in five poor children now receives cash aid, the lowest level in nearly 50 years.”

We don’t have a welfare problem in America. We have a poverty problem in America. And Republican race-baiting does not get us any closer to solving it.

Ed Morales is a contributor to the New York Times and Newsday and is the author of “Living in Spanglish.” He can be reached at

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White supremacist posters on campuses play on ignorance and fear within the very institutions that should be our...

Trump's politics are not the problem.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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