Rep. Tommy Hanes is mad at facts. For real. Hanes apparently spent his Christmas vacation writing out bills to pre-file, and the submission of those bills has not brought about the gratitude from the masses that Hanes was so obviously shooting for.
Hanes has been widely criticized for his pandering, worthless bills that vilify the poor and use long-debunked falsehoods as their basis.
And Hanes is mad.
“The liberal news media is playing a role in spreading false information about conservatives who attempt to implement common sense reform,” Hanes was quoted saying in a press release his office sent out. “Our goal should be helping folks become independent, so they are able to obtain a much higher standard of living. Left-wing media outlets have attacked me and called this reform a vilification of the poor. In attempting to make this program more efficient for those in need, these are the very citizens I am fighting for in this bill.
“Instead of reporting the truth, some in the press are misleading the public by spreading fake propaganda. I will never be intimidated in my fight for the working-class citizens of this state.”
If you didn’t read all of that quote, let me sum it up: “FAKE NEWS,” Hanes screamed.
Let me set the record straight. Again.
No one is spreading propaganda or misleading the public, except for Hanes. Time and again now, he’s been told that his belief that massive fraud is taking place in the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is not supported by the documented evidence. And he has been provided that evidence.
It has been explained to him that there are no single, able-bodied adults receiving SNAP benefits in Alabama.
It has been explained to him that the only reason the state’s Human Resources Department would ever request a waiver of the work requirement to qualify for assistance programs is in the case of a catastrophic event, like the complete tanking of the American economy — the only thing that has ever prompted a waiver request.
It has been explained to him that drug testing welfare recipients would be costly and mostly futile, judging by the results from every other state that has tried such a program, including states in our immediate vicinity.
None of these facts seem to matter to Tommy Hanes.
He believes there is fraud, and by God, he’s going to spend millions of dollars to eliminate that non-existent fraud. And he’s actually angry that no one wants to join him on this fantasyland journey.
In Hanes’ mind, there are thousands of athletic men just lounging around at home, smoking weed, waiting on Maury to reveal who the father is and collecting government checks hand over fist.
But that’s not true.
In 2016, there were 27,000 people who received some form of aid from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or what we typically refer to as “welfare.” Two years earlier, in 2014, we had nearly 900,000 people who received SNAP benefits.
More than 20,000 of the 27,000 who received TANF money were children. Every single household that received SNAP benefits had children. (And a portion of the money from both programs went to homes with special needs recipients.)
And the absolute most those homes received was a bit more than $200 per month for a family of three.
All of this has been explained to Hanes multiple times now. And officials from Human Resources have also explained to him and other lawmakers where the actual fraud in the programs lie, and how the department is working to eliminate it.
But still, for at least the third consecutive legislative session, Hanes is back with the same absurd bills, promising to stomp out the fraud and protect the money of the working men.
I would say that the people of House District 23 should be concerned that their representative is so blatantly pandering with these bills when he clearly knows better.
But it’s even scarier to consider that he still doesn’t know better.