The Dispatch: Republican Conference Positioning



Here's what you need to know this week:

  1. Last Tax Day with an Outdated Code
  2. Farm Bill Introduced
  3. Personal Stories: Real person impact of the Farm Bill
  4. What We're Reading on Welfare Reform
  5. Zuckerberg Hearings
  6. Speaker Ryan's Announcement



Top 5 Ways the New Tax Code Will Be Better Than the Old One For America


April 17th marks the last time that taxpayers will ever have to deal with the old, broken tax code.

As we bid farewell to the old tax code, Here are the top five ways our new tax code, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will benefit hardworking Americans and their families nationwide:

1. Lower Taxes Rates for Americans
With lower tax rates, Americans in every community will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money to save or spend as they see fit. In fact, A typical family of four earning $75,000 will see a tax cut of more than $2,000.

2. Nearly Doubled Standard Deduction
The new code will increase the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples – nearly double the amounts available under the old tax code. This will protect more income from taxes.

3. Doubling The Child Tax Credit to Help Families
The new code doubles the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 and makes it available to more families across the country dealing with the costs of raising a family.  In addition, it preserves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and Adoption Tax Credit. The new tax law also improves saving options for education by allowing families to use 529 accounts to save for elementary, secondary, and higher education – whether it’s college or a vocational school. The law also helps families save for retirement and other future needs by improving popular savings programs such as 401(k)s, Individual Retirement Accounts and college savings plans.  

4. A Simpler Process
Next April 17th will bring a lot of relief to the yearly hassle of filing taxes. The new law is designed to enable Americans to file their taxes in a simple and straightforward way. The IRS has also released a 2018 withholding calculator to help families determine the appropriate withholding amount for their circumstances.   

5. Relief from Obamacare 
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repeals Obamacare’s unpopular and ineffective individual mandate. By eliminating this unfair tax, Americans will no longer be forced to buy government-mandated health insurance they don’t want, don’t need, and often can’t afford to use. Families will now have the freedom to buy the health care plan that’s right for them.




House Agriculture Committee Introduced the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018


CLICK HERE or below for the full 8-page summary .PDF



Key Changes for Workforce Development Reforms

CLICK HERE for the .PDF version

Workforce Development
Insufficient, vague and unenforceable work requirements—further undermined by loopholes to waive individuals from participating—dissuade employment and restrict opportunities for recipients.

  • The requirement for Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) has failed to be implemented fairly across states, and where it has been implemented it has failed to incentivize work.
  • Employment and Training (E&T) services provided to get individuals back to work and self-sufficiency are inadequate and underfunded.

A realistic, supportive and simplified work requirement is paired with funding for states to provide guaranteed, improved and constructive options to move participants toward improved wages, higher-quality employment and independence of government aid. The bill:

  • Establishes a substantive work requirement for all work-capable adults (aged 18-59)—thus eliminating both the general work requirement and the ABAWD time limit—with exemptions for specific populations including the elderly, disabled and those who are pregnant;
  • Energizes and prepares work-capable adults for self-sufficiency by modernizing the investment in SNAP E&T, providing case management, guaranteeing access for all participants and enhancing the current scope of services offered by states;
  • Provides a two-year transition period to states, allowing them to increase their access and capacity in
  • program delivery;
  • Does not take away eligibility, but provides individuals options. Individuals may choose not to participate, but they will no longer be eligible for SNAP; and
  • Instead, the 2018 Farm Bill provides an effective work requirement of 20 hours per week, coupled with flexible means of delivery, recognizing states know their populations best

Modernize Asset Testing
Current eligibility requirements, particularly asset limitations, are outdated and circumvented too frequently.

  • The law provides for program eligibility based on one of two options:
    • Meeting SNAP-specific eligibility requirements, including a limit on the value of household assets; or
    • Automatically – “categorically” - receiving SNAP based on receipt of benefits from specified low-income assistance programs, i.e. TANF. The most egregious form of automatic eligibility is “Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility,” in which states waive asset tests and extend eligibility for SNAP via receipt of—or authorization to receive—a TANF-funded brochure, hotline number, etc., as opposed to actual benefits.

Enforce asset limits for those not receiving benefits from other income-tested programs and ensure that asset limits are updated to modern levels.

  • Eliminate Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility, limiting the use of categorical eligibility to those actually receiving tangible services (e.g. child care or transportation assistance) or cash assistance from TANF.
  • Modernize values for assets, many of which have not been updated since the 1970s, and require they be enforced.
    • Allowable asset levels:
      • For households without an elderly or disabled member, households with up to $7,000 in countable assets (up from $2,250) may be eligible.
      • For households with an elderly or disabled member, households with up to $12,000 in countable assets (up from $3,500) may be eligible.
    • Updates in exclusions from countable assets:
      • Exclude the first $12,000 in value of one vehicle per licensed driver (updated from $4,650 per adult household member).
      • Exclude the first $2,000 in a household’s savings accounts (new exclusion).
      • Maintain that counted financial resources. DO NOT include the value of the primary home and lot; household items; business assets, including vehicles used for income-producing purposes; property that produces income; retirement savings/plans; funeral plans and burial plots; education savings; and earned income tax credits.




Personal Stories: Real person impact of the Farm Bill


FGA | April’s Story: Choosing Freedom



VIEW ONLINE | When April O’Neill was first introduced to Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission, she was an addict serving a 72-hour community service sentence for shoplifting. After spending more than a decade on government assistance, the Mission challenged her to give up her benefits and embark on a new path of self-reliance.

Following a childhood mired in drug use and poverty, April first began using when she was only 11 years old and started receiving government assistance when she was just 16 years old. Her experience at Watered Gardens showed her a better way for her to choose a free and dignified life. The Mission’s belief that work is vital to awakening worth in people fully manifests itself in April’s story. Her remarkable journey led her from being an addict serving a community sentence to starting her own mission; April is now the Director of a Women’s Discipleship House called In His Hands.

Watch as April shares her inspiring story of how she overcame adversity and began living an independent life while helping others do the same.







FGA | Ricardo’s Story: From Dependence to Dignity 



VIEW ONLINE | FGA’s policies promote the importance of moving people from a lifetime of government dependence on welfare to the freedom and dignity that work provides. This inspiring video displays how Watered Gardens Rescue Mission in Joplin, Missouri applies these same principles to residents—and the results are astounding.

We’d like you to meet Ricardo Medina, Care Coordinator at Watered Gardens. Ricardo overcame homelessness and addiction to begin living a successful life free from government dependence. In his role at Watered Gardens, Ricardo is now helping to restore dignity in others through the power of work and self-reliance. Watch as Ricardo shares his powerful story about experiencing the freedom of work and his journey from dependence to dignity.







FGA | James Whitford: Work is Vital



VIEW ONLINE | When James Whitford first began his ministry 17 years ago in “one very small room”, he didn’t imagine that he would one day have incredible impact, meeting nearly 20,000 needs every year. But that’s exactly what happened. His ministry, Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission, approaches charity in a unique manner by believing that simply providing handouts to those in need creates a trap of dependency.

Watered Gardens boldly asks residents to give up their food stamp cards and government housing and then teaches them how to become fully self-reliant. The staff help lift individuals from poverty by building their confidence and skill sets to help them to find employment and housing in a transformation process that Whitford describes as “the most encouraging thing you could ever be a part of.”

It is the hallmark of what FGA believes is possible when you allow work to lead individuals to independent lives free from government dependence. Watch as James Whitford shares the inspirational story of how Watered Gardens Rescue Mission helps restore dignity and hope through the amazing power of work.




What We're Reading on Welfare Reform



Across the nation, millions of Americans are trapped in government dependency. Every dollar that is spent on able-bodied, working age adults diverts precious resources from the very individuals the program was designed to help - the truly needy - and from other important priorities. 

Every dollar that is spent on able-bodied, working age adults diverts precious resources from the very individuals the program was designed to help - the truly needy - and from other important priorities such as education, public safety, and infrastructure.
Full Explainer

Also from FGA: What Americans think about welfare reform




Chair Mike Conaway (R-TX) via USA Today: Food-stamp work requirements will lift Americans out of poverty
Benefits are critically important and serve a vital role in the safety net aimed at catching people if they should fall into poverty. But equally important is a focus on helping these same people climb back out of poverty...People want to believe the American dream is attainable. That’s why we need to shift the conversation on poverty in this country from one focused purely on benefits to one about improving futures.

And as the House Agriculture Committee releases its new farm bill — legislation that governs the policy for our nation’s nutrition programs — that is precisely what we aim to do. Our proposal is straightforward: help those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) who are work-capable find employment to support their households.  
Full Column




The Federalist | 5 Welfare Scams Happening RIght Now That Prove We Need Reform
Major theft is happening every day across the country, often unnoticed and rarely prosecuted: It is welfare fraud, and the cost is high. Thieves are stealing from taxpayers when they rob the public of funds that were meant for the truly needy. But this theft isn’t taking place in broad daylight. It’s hidden in a dusty pile of paper in the basements of government agencies. So, it gets ignored. But the welfare system is being scammed across the country — and it’s having a major impact. 
Full Story




Wall Street Journal | Working on Food Stamps
A common refrain from businesses is that they can’t find enough workers. The unemployment rate is a low 4.1%, but one reason for the shortage are government benefits that corrode a culture of work. So credit to House Republicans for trying to fix disincentives in food stamps amid what are sure to be nasty and dishonest attacks.
Full Story




NY Post | Trump just took a giant step toward actual welfare reform
The executive order, signed Tuesday afternoon, lays out principles to encourage economic mobility through work — a tactic that we’ve seen succeed in states across the nation. It calls for a strengthened work requirement for able-bodied adults, building off the requirement established in the 1996 bipartisan welfare reform that requires able-bodied adults on food stamps to work, train or volunteer for at least 20 hours per week.

Despite evidence that work requirements work — cutting time spent on welfare in half, doubling incomes and moving adults into over 600 diverse industries — the Obama administration approved waivers for those requirements in most states, citing high unemployment and severe job shortages.
Full Story




House Energy and Commerce Hearing with Mark Zuckerberg



McMorris Rodgers: “Over Easter, a Catholic university’s ad with a picture of the historic San Damiano Cross was rejected by Facebook. Though Facebook addressed the error days later, that it happened at all is deeply disturbing.”
“Could you tell me what was so “shocking, sensational, or excessively violent” about the ad to cause it to be initially censored? Given that your company has since said it did not violate terms of service, how can users know that their content is being viewed and judged according to objective standards?”
Zuckerberg: “Congresswoman it sounds like we made a mistake there. I apologize for that. Unfortunately with the amount of content in our systems, and the current systems that we have in place to review, we make a relatively small percent of mistakes in content review. But, that’s too many. This is an area where we need to improve.”
McMorris Rodgers: This is an important issue as we build trust, and that will be important as we move forward.



McMorris Rodgers Statement on Speaker Paul Ryan


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 11, 2018) -- Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released the following statement:

“America stands on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us because they put country first. That’s what Speaker Ryan has modeled for all of us.

“Speaker Ryan didn’t seek this office, this office sought him. Nonetheless, his brilliance and understanding of policies that empower people to reach their full potential led us to advance solutions that improve the lives of all Americans and their families.

“Mr. Speaker, thank you for your service in the People’s House and congratulations for all that you have accomplished on behalf of the people of Wisconsin and our entire nation.”