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Eight-Year-Old Awesomely Shames Lawmaker Into Dropping Ridiculous Welfare Bill

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shutterstock_126388238__1365865593_70.118.110.28It took a confrontation with an 8-year-old to get Republican state Senator Stacey Campfield of Tennessee to drop his ridiculous proposal to tie welfare benefits to children’s grades. What will they think of next?

Senate Bill 132 would have reduced benefits to families of children who fail a grade unless their parents take “corrective action.” According to The Tennessean, corrective action includes “attending an eight-hour parenting class, meeting twice with teachers, enrolling a child in summer school or arranging tutoring.” On the surface this may seem like a pretty benign idea. But asking already struggling families to squeeze in time for an eight-hour parenting class is pretty unreasonable and also shows a complete misunderstanding of low-income struggles to begin with.

On his way to a vote on Thursday, the Senator was presented with a petition signed by those who were opposed to his welfare bill. It was delivered by 8-year-old  Aamira Fetuga. A video of the interaction shows the Senator rushing away from the child, at times pausing momentarily to answer her questions – rarely looking her in the eye. At one point he mutters that “using children as props is shameful.” Yes – I think we all agree to that point. Which is why so many people are protesting your bill.

On what planet is putting such a huge financial strain on the back of a child a great idea? I hate these “welfare reform” bills that assume that parents aren’t already doing the best that they can for their children and make them jump through hoops to prove that they are, in fact, good parents; “Families would see their payments, which average about $185 a month, cut by about 30 percent until they demonstrated that they had completed at least one of those tasks.” I’d like to see the percentage of people on welfare in that state that actually have children failing out of school.

Welfare opponents like Campfield love to paint the picture of a lazy, uninvolved citizen living off of the system. I am so sick of that tired stereotype. Falling on hard times does not make anyone less of an involved parent. Legislation like this exists to perpetuate the “us/them” dichotomy that exists in the way we view government assistance. It’s shameful and ridiculous. And the fact that a State Senator has a hard time looking an 8-year-old in the eye is pretty telling.

(photo: J Main/ Shutterstock.com)