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RELEASE: House Strip Club Vote Misses the Point

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Contact: Madeline Meth
Phone: 202.741.6277

Washington, D.C. – Today, as the House of Representatives prepares to debate a bill that would ban welfare dollars from being used at strip clubs, casinos and liquor stores, Half in Ten’s Melissa Boteach explains why Congress needs to focus less on demonizing the poor, and spend more time on creating jobs for Americans and rebuilding the middle class.

With unemployment at 8.5 percent and more than one in three Americans struggling to get by on low incomes, do conservatives really believe that taxpayer dollars used for strip clubs, liquor stores, or casinos is a pressing national crisis? For most House conservatives, the answer is probably no. Do they see the political value of forcing such a vote in an election year? You bet!

This vote represents yet another instance in the creeping trend of conservatives to demonize the poor—and then threaten anyone who votes against the legislation with supporting “welfare spending” for strip club admissions. The tactic enables conservatives to imply that tough economic circumstances somehow make poor people delinquent and criminally inclined. Take, for example, the House proposal to stigmatize the unemployed by mandating drug testing for unemployment insurance applicants, even though most states already have policies in place to deny these benefits to anyone who is fired for using drugs on the job. Never mind that people on assistance have been found to test positive for drug use at no higher rate than the average population.

Rather than focusing valuable congressional floor time to debating TANF benefits at strip clubs, the House leadership should dedicate more time to putting Americans back to work and rebuilding our middle class. Measures such as these are an insult to the millions of unemployed Americans who want nothing more than to get a job or who seek temporary assistance to help their families back on their feet at times of crisis.

To read the full column click here.

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