Rep. Gohmert's Ingenious Welfare Reform Proposal

September 29, 2010 12:28 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) offered a Texas-style alternative to some of the most important social safety net programs.  In place of providing unemployment insurance, food stamps, supplemental security income, housing assistance and promoting nutrition programs for school children and infants, Gohmert's idea calls on the government to offer several acres of land to Americans and then make the recipients promise that they'd stay off the public dole.

Gohmert: We have people on welfare and I know there's some that just don't wanna work, but there's some that do.  How 'bout if instead of the welfare, we give 'em an alternative.  We'll give you so many acres that can provide land where you can live off of it, make a living and we'll give you seed money to start, but you have to sign an agreement that you'll never accept welfare again.  How 'bout that?  We got plenty of land.


Gohmert — who sits on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands — doesn't say where all this land will come from.  Most federal land is in the West, while most of our biggest cities are in the East.  So if this alternative to welfare ever sees the light of day, it would presumably require people interested in the proposal to move across the country.

If any of this sounds familiar, it should.  Gohmert's proposal has vestiges of the much-misunderstood 40 acres and a mule deal offered to former slaves after the Civil War or the relocating of "undesirable" populations into predetermined plots of land.