Somebody just didn’t think it through. How else to see a new federal policy that could deprive people who owe back child support of precisely 100 percent of their federal benefits, even if that is their only income source?
The policy, set to take effect next year, is an unintended consequence of a move by the Treasury Department to pay all benefits electronically. Those payments will include Social Security, disability and veterans’ benefits.
As long as payments could be issued by mailed checks, states were limited to collecting 65 percent of a federal benefit amount.
Most of the people owing child support, of course, are male.
According to an Associated Press report, in many cases, the debts are old. The kids they were destined for have grown up. In some cases, the kids are now supporting their elderly parent.
But if states previously stepped in to make welfare payments for the kids because Dad wasn’t paying child support, the states are entitled to go after the father for the debt and accumulated interest. Most of the money garnished, in fact, will go to states, not to the children.
It doesn’t matter why the parent couldn’t make payments. He may have been in prison or another institution. He may be disabled. And, to be sure, he may be a deadbeat, able to hold a job and make payments, but who chose not to do so.
Estimates are that 275,000 men are vulnerable to the changes.
The change that wrought this debacle in the making was no act of Congress, but a rule made by a federal agency.
So, of course, it can be unmade, and somewhere in the bowels of government, we’re told, that’s in the works. But some people interviewed for the report said the policy is legally unavoidable. The dilemma is whether to restrain states trying to collect a legal debt, or depriving people of their only income.
That to us is a no-brainer. Three-fourths of parents who owe $30,000 or more either had no reported income or income less than $10,000. Earnings for many were interrupted by disability or jail. They’re considered unlikely ever to pay the debt.
We expect the rule to be amended soon. If it remains, a 19th century debtor’s prison might be preferable.
– originally published in the Oakland Daily Tribune on March 2, 2012.
The opinion of this post presumes that government actions mentioned in this article are ‘unintentional.’ I think not. This IS deliberate, but the media and the rest of the nation have caught on to the foul smell of tyranny. Whether by policy, by law, by interagency statute, the tyranny is the same. The United States is already on the fast track.