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Family Civil Rights Coalitions Deliver Letter to HHS Secretary Price Suggesting Taxpayer Savings by De-Funding of Title IV-D

Letter to HHS Secretary Thomas Price Suggesting De-Funding of Title IV-D Federal “Matching Funds” and TANF

March 22, 2017–New York, NY, San Diego, CA, Sarasota, FL–Today nationwide family civil rights organizations including Families Civil Liberties Union, New York Chapter, California Coalition for Families and Children, PBC, and the Florida Family and Children Constitutional Coalition, Inc. in announcing delivery of a letter to the incoming Secretary of the United States Health and Human Services Department, Dr. Thomas Price.  A broad coalition of family civil rights organizations join in the letter.

In the letter, the family coalitions describe how wasteful federal spending on Title IV-D “matching funds” destroys families, harms children, and is rife with fraud and abuse.  From the letter:

We encourage abandonment of the wasteful and poisonous “Title IV-D” program (authorized under the Social Security Act of 1975, 42 U.S.C. § 658(a)) administered by HHS, whereby the federal government redirects billions of dollars from social security funds to states.  Title IV-D absurdly rewards states for collecting child support from broken families by paying localities dollar-for-dollar “matching” federal funds for each dollar collected from a child support debtor.

This “matching scheme” effectively bribes state family courts to maximize child support awards by re-arranging child custody between parents to impose an artificial “visitor” parent and “custodial” parent status.  Almost without exception, the family court designates the high-wage-earner parent as a “visitor” who is thereafter required to pay child support to the “custodial” parent.  “Visitor” parents who fail to make child support payments are frequently jailed—even if they are unable to pay.

Though Title IV-D was enacted with fair intentions to encourage family support debtors to stay current on child support, the letter describes the drastic and harmful effect that Title IV-D has wrought upon American families:

To fund, administer, and enforce the Title IV-D program, the federal government grants about six billion dollars each year to the states. No restrictions are imposed on how the states spend these funds. Not surprisingly, federal “matching” funds are rarely spent on family-supporting programs.  Instead they are used to build up a huge “family-court industrial complex” made up of quack psychologists, corrupt “guardians ad litem,” and child-support bounty hunters.  And then there are the tens of thousands of prison staff whose job it is to watch over parents whose only crime is an inability to pay a court-imposed support award.  If there are swamps that need draining, this “family-court industrial complex” built with federal funds to persecute non-violent debtor parents should be right at the top of the list.

 The title IV-D program also discourages family courts from establishing fair and child-promoting co-parenting plans. The monetary incentives favoring one “custodial” parent also encourages divorce, and are a major reason why 24 million American children are now growing up in single-parent households.  Equitable custody arrangements are the best solution to ensuring consistent payment of child support, and ensuring peace and financial stability for American families.

The coalition also calls out wasteful spending in TANF funds:

Twenty-Five National Family Civil Rights Coalitions Co-Signed the Letter

The six billion dollars in wasteful Title IV-D funds is just the tip of the iceberg. By accepting the provisions of Title IV-D, a state can dip into funding from TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families—Title IV-A). This is a program which costs HHS nearly a trillion dollars each year.  TANF is rife with corruption.  Across the United States local “child protection” entities are removing healthy, happy children from “good enough” families, and adopting them out—all because they receive TANF incentive funds, which average $6,000 per child.  This “kids for cash” arrangement is simply child trafficking—funded by us, the American taxpayers.

The coalition requests that Secretary Price de-fund these wasteful programs to avoid harmful effects:

Dramatic Rise in Single-Parent Homes (Source Washington Post–December 18, 2014) (Click to Enlarge)

Draining the swamp of federal Title IV-D and TANF funds will not only save trillions, it will also help make millions of American families great again.  It is well-known that children raised in single-parent households perform far worse than children from intact families.  Further, it is well-established that family dissolution is a significant triggering factor in depression, substance abuse, crime, poverty, suicide, and homicide.  Nevertheless, these federal programs encourage exactly such tragic outcomes. 

Since the inception of family-focused welfare programs in the 1960s, single-parent families among white families have increased from 5% to 40% today.  Among African American families that number has skyrocketed from 20% in the 1960’s to nearly 80% today.  By removing the insidious incentives of governments to destroy families, you can not only save American taxpayers trillions of dollars, you also empower families—not crooked courts—to reach child-promoting arrangements that keep both parents active and involved in raising their children.

Title IV-D incentives are a national cancer that has been kept secret for too long,” says Sebastian Doggart, President of the New York Families Civil Liberties Union. “For decades, the Federal government has been bribing the states to set up custody arrangements where children have to grow up with just one parent. As a result, around half of our kids will now live with just one parent before they are 18. Meantime, family court judges and their attorney buddies are using the destruction of our families to get filthy rich.  That money is coming from both us, the taxpayers, through the billions of dollars wasted on Title IV-D funds, and from the costly divorces and custody disputes whose flames those judges and attorneys are fanning. This is a swamp that truly, urgently needs draining” says Doggart.

Page Two of over Twenty-Five Family Coalition Signatories

Signatories to the letter represent a broad coalition of national family civil rights organizations, veterans organizations, and family support coalitions.

“We’re blessed to have so many concerned family activists across the United States who have devoted their time and energy toward this important project.  We hope that other organizations will feel free to join our efforts with similar letters and lobbying,” says Cole Stuart, Executive Director of California Coalition for Families and Children.  “If you are interested in collaboration, we welcome your participation.”

Inquiries may be directed to Cole.Stuart@WeightierMatter.com, or SDoggart@fclu.org.

Nationwide Family Civil Rights Groups Lobby U.S. Attorney General Sessions to Save Taxpayer Dollars by De-Funding OVW Grants

A Diverse Coalition of Family Support Groups is Asking the U.S. Department of Justice to De-Fund OVW Grant Programs Costing Taxpayers Billions, Yet Without a Reduction in Crime

March 23, 2017–San Diego, CA; New York, NY; Sarasota, FL–Today nationwide family civil rights organizations including California Coalition for Families and Children, PBC, the Families Civil Liberties Union, New York Chapter, and the Florida Family and Children Constitutional Coalition, Inc. lobby incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions to de-fund federal grant programs.  In a letter delivered today to the Department of Justice, the family civil rights organizations explain that in the 23 years since VAWA was enacted in 1994, billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent toward reducing family violence, yet crime statistics show that Office on Violence Against Women (“OVW”) grants to state and local social services programs have had no appreciable impact on reducing domestic violence.  By contrast, such programs have had enormously tragic consequences in destroying families, careers, and lives.  From the letter:

 Shockingly, even though Congress has been dishing out billions of dollars to OVW programs since 1994, not one of OVW’s biennial reports has been able to present any evidence that the billions spent have reduced domestic violence.  If there is a key question a crime-reduction program must answer, that surely must be: “Is it effective at reducing crime?”  The answer OVW has offered in each biennial report since 1994 has been a stunning “We don’t know.”  Yet we do know that each year tens of thousands of non-violent heterosexual men are regularly ensnared by sexist OVW grantee policies—resulting in destroyed families, destroyed careers, destroyed psyches, and destroyed lives.

It’s time to stop throwing billions of tax dollars into this ineffective—indeed harmful—swamp.  The Heritage Foundation has recently estimated that eliminating ineffective OVW grant programs would save taxpayers around $4.7 billion from today through 2025.  This hard-cost estimate does not account for billions more in emotional and fiscal loss caused to families ensnared in the ineffective and sexist OVW programs.

The letter details how the billions in taxpayer dollars have been diverted from traditional law enforcement programs to a vast array of social services amounting to a jobs programs for “3rd wave” feminists who deploy sexist stereotypes and radical ideologies**:

Despite that OVW claims to be a “law enforcement” agency, it is no such thing.  Rather, it is yet another “deep state” federal agency that has “gone rogue” from its original charter.  Rather than prevention of domestic crimes, since 1994 OVW has administered grant programs absorbing billions of dollars budgeted by Congress for critical law enforcement functions such as border control and immigration enforcement, drug and weapons interdiction, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, and tens of thousands of federal prosecutors and courts.  OVW instead diverts funds to state and local entities through grant programs which provide welfare services not directed at reducing crime.

 Far from supporting law enforcement, the OVW has evolved to become a multi-billion dollar federal government jobs program directed to benefit ideologically-intoxicated feminists and their male acolytes friendly to a radical anti-male narrative.  OVW grants fund domestic violence related services—shelters, “community education” programs which indoctrinate local government officials with sexist anti-male ideology, “victim assistance” programs, and other similar services.  OVW programs fund social workers, psychiatrists, non-lawyer radical feminist “advocates,” doctors, nurses, civil attorneys, and “training” of local judges and court staff in sexist ideology.  OVW grant dollars are spent by such entities on regular “training” conferences—often in luxurious resort locations—which proselytize barely-veiled sexist ideology and implementation of discriminatory anti-male policies and practices.  One recipient of millions of dollars in federal funding, Casey Gwinn of San Diego, California-based “Family Justice Center Alliance,” recently proposed using federal funds to install hair and nail salons inside of police stations to serve victims of domestic violence. 

The letter also details the sexist, anti-male roots of VAWA, and describes how that anti-male prejudice has destroyed countless millions of families and innocent lives:

Not surprisingly, these anti-male ideologies have a monolithic explanation for all family violence—heterosexual men attempting to exert “power and control” over their female partners, who are cast as “historic victims of male oppression.”  Billions in taxpayer dollars administered by OVW grant programs effectively bribe cash-starved local courts, family social workers, and law enforcement to abandon longstanding principles of constitutional law enforcement, in favor of radical feminist anti-male practices.  For example, OVW requires grant recipients to adopt a “mandatory arrest” policy, which requires local law enforcement to respond to every domestic conflict with immediate incarceration—often precipitating immediate tragic consequences for the entire family.  OVW grants require local law enforcement to adopt a policy of arresting the “predominant aggressor”—which is inconsistent with traditional, non-dv, policing policy of arresting the first or more violent aggressor—or both partners if equally culpable.  The “predominant aggressor” grant condition effectively requires police to arrest the larger or stronger person in every altercation—which in heterosexual relationships is inevitably the male.  No honest policymaker, activist, or academic–including even feminists–will deny this, yet oddly the sexist and invidiously discriminatory practice continues unabated.

Highly reputable and accomplished feminist activists and scholars recognize that OVW’s grant conditions are sexist, immoral, illegal, and ineffective.  Feminist legal scholars such as Dr. Linda Mills—a highly-accomplished NYU law professor and University Dean—Erin Prizzey—who opened the first battered women’s shelter and hundreds since—and American Enterprise Institute Fellow Christina Hoff Sommers have extensively researched, published, and spoken regarding VAWA.  They observe that OVW domestic violence policies were intended by their feminist creators to punish heterosexual men for all conflict within a family.  

The letter concludes:

“If feminism stands for equality between man and woman, then solutions which invariably saddle men with culpability for domestic strife clearly are not feminist—but prejudicial perversions thereof.

The letter notes the abundance of community-based dispute resolution organizations which are equally if not more effective, are not founded on sexist ideology, are far less expensive, and do not require bloated agencies and intrusive government intervention:

There are many modern methods for addressing domestic violence which are not poisoned by sexist ideology.  Restorative Justice—practiced by Dr. Linda Mills and others including many among the undersigned—is one such alternative.  Other alternatives include Cooperative Family Law, Collaborative Family Law, and state-sponsored professional mediation.  Where serious crimes are involved, traditional, gender-neutral community-based policing and prosecution remains available and at least as effective as sexist “one-size-fits-all” policies contrived in Washington, D.C.  Such methods do not require new, bloated government agencies to administer.  They do not require invasive and expensive criminal justice interventions.  They do not destroy innocent lives.  They are known to be just as effective at preventing violence.  Yet despite OVW’s charter mission to reduce domestic violence, the agency shuns these viable, inexpensive alternatives for the single reason that they do not adopt OVW’s anti-male prejudice.

Signatories Include Diverse Family Civil Rights Organizations, Veteran Organizations, and Professional Parenting Support Agencies (Click to Enlarge)

The letter includes a bibliography with references supporting the propositions made by the coalition groups.

Signatories to the letter include many nationwide family civil rights organizations, disability advocates, and veterans organizations.

We’re honored to have the participation and support of so many influential organizations which dedicate themselves to assisting families in crisis,” says Cole Stuart, Executive Director of California Coalition for Families and Children.  “This really was a group effort–everyone offered suggestions which enriched our message.  Hopefully the letter will ring true to those responsible for reducing the enormous tax burden on the American taxpayer.  Far healthier, less expensive, community-based alternatives exist and can thrive, yet OVW has consistently stifled competition from any organization that does not adopt its illegal and offensive anti-male sexist ideology,” says Stuart.

“”It’s time to end this fraud, waste and abuse,” says Sebastian Doggart, president of the New York Families Civil Liberties Union. “History will judge the legacy of the VAWA program as one of the most toxic, and destructive chapters of US governmental interference in our families. Let’s help our sons and daughters get along with each other, rather than wasting billions in pitting them against each other” says Doggart.

With a new administration, parents have an opportunity to reach out to a new breed of policymakers to create reasonable practices.  We’re eager to share our experiences as parents living under the threat of OVW-funded social programs which destroy innocent families, and we look forward to working with the Attorney General toward sensible domestic violence policies that support–not ruin–families in crisis,” says John Bautista, Co-Founder and CEO of FFCCC.

This is the second in a coming series of similar lobbying letters to the new administration, the first being to Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Thomas Price, delivered March 22, 2017, requesting de-funding of Title IV-D “matching” funds commonly used to imprison family support award debtors who can’t pay support awards.  The coalition members plan to continue their collaboration in pursuit of sane, equitable, and effective family-supporting practices.

It’s deplorable–to be eligible for VAWA dollars, family support organizations have to drink the Kool-Aide of sexist OVW grant conditions, including “predominant aggressor and “mandatory arrest” of only one person involved in a domestic dispute–which in heterosexual relationships is inevitably the male.  Convincing federal lawmakers to take on the federal and local ‘deep state’ bureaucracies that feed millions of ideologically-intoxicated feminists is of course a tough nut to crack–these “3rd wave” of feminists are highly manipulative, fiercely intimidating, and shun reason in favor of chaos and violence.  But we are certain that lawmakers will soon see what can’t be hidden forever–even though Congress has poured billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain since 1994, OVW’s grant-condition Kool-Aide and resulting nationwide policies are miserable–and often life-destroying–failures,” says Stuart.

It’s time to end the ineffective and sexist OVW grants, and time to enable the abundance of sane, fair, and vastly less expensive community-based support organizations,” says Stuart.

California Coalition’s Executive Director Cole Stuart observes that certain feminist organizations appear to advocate violence.  “The tactics of OVW-grantees have evolved to resemble the tactics of Islamic jihadists attempting to impose Sharia law–reward “believers” in false ideology by bribery and government-imposed social mobility, while using the power of the state to “convert” non-believers by threats, terror, imprisonment, and even death.  Witness Madonna’s ‘visions’ of blowing up the White House during the ‘Women’s March on Washington’ in January.  Perhaps Madonna isn’t exactly a feminist mullah, but her rhetoric and the rhetoric of many other feminist activists sound eerily like a call to violence if you ask me,” says Cole Stuart, Executive Director of California Coalition for Families and Children, PBC.

For more information contact Cole.Stuart@WeightierMatter.com or SDoggart@fclu.org

ENDNOTES

**Ironically, these feminist sexist ideologies inflict sexism against both men and non-feminist women alike.  According to Professor Mills, the four central assumptions of this version of feminism, which she calls “Mainstream Feminism,” are:

  1. “Mainstream Feminists” assume that men–and only men–batter (defined as anything from physical assault to “asserting power and control” such as monitoring the family budget) because a “patriarchy” (rule by the eldest males) permits it.  This version of feminism assumes that men are privileged physically, financially, and socially—privileges that are holdovers from a history of oppression of women. Based on these assumptions these “Mainstream Feminists” conclude that anything short of incarceration of males to defeat this “patriarchy” is an unacceptable response to historical male oppression of females.
  2. “Mainstream Feminists” assume that women who stay in abusive relationships do so because of the “patriarchy” described above.  These women fear their abuser, but lack resources and social support to leave. Based on these assumptions, Mainstream Feminists conclude that women who stay in abusive relationships are weak, lack “feminist consciousness,” and are unable to act decisively.
  3. “Mainstream Feminists” also assume that the criminal justice system is sexist.  Police, prosecutors, and judges minimize the problem of male domestic violence (defined as anything from serious assaults to a simple disagreement) by falsely denying and discrediting women’s accounts of violence.  According to these feminists, this “systemic sexism” justifies Mainstream Feminists’ agenda of (in Dr. Mills’ words) “a homogeneous and extreme—perhaps even violent—response now.”
  4. “Mainstream Feminists” assume that only extraordinary measures such as mandatory arrest, no-drop prosecution, and long-term sentences against men accused of battering (again, defined as anything from serious assaults to simple disagreements) will counteract men’s patriarchal power, cure the non-feminist women’s weaknesses, and the justice system’s sexism. Imprisonment of men is the only appropriate response to “patriarchy.”

These assumptions and sexist conclusions based thereon were adopted by the Department of Justice/Office on Violence Against Women shortly after the passage of VAWA.  Through bribery and coercion inflicted upon OVW grantees, today the assumptions form the foundation of the radically sexist and discriminatory domestic violence policing practices for the tens of thousands of DOJ/OVW grantee jurisdictions across the nation–likely including your city, county, or state.

To read more of Dr. Mills’ remarkably prescient scholarship on this topic, click here.  For details on the generations of studies of crime statistics consistently demonstrating that women and men commit domestic assaults at roughly the same rates, see Erin Prizzey’s interviews of Dr. Mills, Dr. Dutton, Dr. Feiberg, and others here.

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