Rousselle offers welfare ‘solutions’ in latest column: Tie benefits to jobs, marriage before childbirth

Christine Rousselle, the Scarborough native and Providence College student who’s taken conservative punditry by storm over the past month, is back with a third column on welfare.

A teaser? The columnist who’s been called the next conservative sex symbol is writing that TANF should be reformed to encourage women to marry before having children, and that EBT card purchases should be restricted to certain items.

With this news, I’d estimate, about half of you reading are jumping for joy and about half of you are starting to boil.

Like national conservative authors and television personalities decades her senior (many of whom have openly lauded Rousselle as the next big thing in their field, including Ann Coulter and Mark Levin), she can be polarizing.

@crousselle on Twitter

Her first column, posted on the website The College Conservative in mid-December, described what she felt were welfare abuses as seen from the position of a Walmart cashier. That went viral, skyrocketing up past 400,000 views in just a few days and earning her interviews on television stations and radio talk shows all over the country.

In that initial welfare piece, in case you’re one of the few who didn’t see the piece crossing your Facebook news feed, she wrote about checking out Walmart customers who were using government subsidies and food stamps to buy professional wrestling action figures and $60 of lobster, among other things.

Then at the tail end of December, she came back with a follow-up, arguing critics of her first column were just attacking her personally and not engaging with her greater point of the need for welfare reform. To get the pot stirring again, she added a few more graphs of what she or others in her family saw as welfare abuses while working in retail jobs in southern Maine.

Now, for part three, she’s got a step-by-step plan to help fix what she sees as major problems with the welfare system. In it, she takes on the position of commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (assuming the position gets injected with more power), and titles the piece: “My solutions. You’re welcome.

She writes:

Some like to make the issue of welfare a complicated mess, filled with statistical anomalies and outliers. The solutions, while not always politically correct, are simple. And they meet the standards of common sense.

As I foreshadowed earlier in this post, her solutions include reforming TANF to encourage marriage before childbirth… (An excerpt.)

TANF currently aids women who are living without a husband or man in the home. TANF was developed as a more restrictive version of AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children), which was originally intended to help widows, but was expanded as part of Johnson’s Great Society program to include unmarried mothers. The statistics speak for themselves. Since AFDC was modified, the rate of out-of-wedlock births has skyrocketed, and the majority of AFDC recipients were no longer widows. This is incredibly troubling.

Today, nearly one out of three white children, half of all Hispanic children, and three out of four black children are born out of wedlock. Those statistics are mind-boggling. That’s a lot of children growing up without a father figure in the house. Statistics overwhelmingly support that marriage is one of the greatest weapons in the fight against child poverty. Conservatives should use these statistics to make a more concerted effort to promote marriage and a stable home life as an effective means of combating poverty.

… and greater EBT restrictions… (another excerpt)

When food stamps were first implemented, Twinkies, frozen pizzas, and energy drinks didn’t exist. A person doesn’t need them to survive, and as tasty as Twinkies may be, they’re not healthy food. If a person wishes to buy something outside of the list, they can use their own money. The program [currently] does not encourage healthy, sustainable food consumption, as it should. A person who is permitted to buy unhealthy items with government money is likely to have additional health problems.

… and tying welfare benefits to jobs. (yet another excerpt)

The widespread abuse evident in both state and federal welfare programs demonstrates the need for much greater reform. Republicans in Congress are now working to pass The Welfare Reform Act of 2011 which would expend the reforms of twelve years ago, including tying the SNAP program to work programs or job training. As Newt Gingrich articulated in the debate the other night, conservatives seek to help people become independent and self-reliant, not more reliant on the government.

She’s got other recommendations listed, including drug testing welfare recipients, and I suspect there are going to be legions of readers who both love and hate these steps.

Let the third round of the debate begin.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.