By ‘Representatives’ I mean members of the House of Reps, or the Senate, and by ‘welfare’ I mean the ‘income support for people who don’t have enough money’ kind, rather than ‘corporate welfare’ or the like.
Inspired by this currently running story from Australia politics.
Jackie Lambie, the politician at the center of this story is a populist politician from a failed political party, and IMO there’s generally a lot to dislike about her - she’s fairly xenophobic, and not notably open to new ideas. But this speech is a good one and has been getting a lot of support from people who would otherwise be vehemently opposed to her, not least because it’s pretty rare to have the bottom quarter of the income spectrum actually represented in Parliament - the average MP is pretty well off (though accidental senator Ricky Muir made a very similar speech during his time in the Senate, and IIRC was actually temporarily on benefits at the point when he was elected)
Anyway, I know the political landscape is quite different here to other places, and it does make me wonder - would this happen in the US? Do economically marginal people get elected to power, or is it the kiss of death to be known to have ever been ‘unsuccessful’ enough to need benefits?
Gwen Moore was once, but I don’t believe she was while running for any office.
Bernie Sanders was poor before being elected and may have collected welfare.
Paul Ryan collected Social Security benefits, after the death of his father. But the family was not at all “economically marginal”; the Social Security money was saved for his college fund.
While not usually thought of as welfare because there’s no separate application or admin overhead, the Earned Income Tax Credit probably should count. It’s one of our biggest anti-poverty programs and benefits low and moderate income households. It’s history dates to 1975. Pretty much any Rep/Senator who was a child in a lower middle class or lower income household has a chance of receiving some benefit under it. Any of them that started off with a very low paying starting job (like say a low paid campaign or political office staffer) might have been a beneficiary as well.
Rubio strikes me as one real possibility for having received EITC based on age and the discussion during the primaries of his relatively poor immigrant parents.
According to this:
Senator Tim Scott of SC grew up poor in a single parent household. It doesn’t say they received benefits, but I wouldn’t be surprised.