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    ACFC ANALYSIS -
 Subversion of Fatherhood in Senate Bill 653
Thanks to Anna Franks for a copy of Senator Evan Bayh's Bill 653, the
`Responsible Fatherhood Act of 2001'.  President Bush has supported
this bill, it already has limited bi-partisan support, and it appears to
represent what is coming down the pike from the fantasyland of our
great leaders inside the Beltway.  While in some ways it represents a
marginal improvement on current family policy, it does not address the
core issues, and has such serious defects that on balance, we believe
it will do more harm than good in its current form.
The full text is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c107query.html,
then enter in "S. 653" in the "Search" section.  We will comment on
a few of the positive and negative aspects below, and conclude with
recommendations for a real fatherhood program, if the government ever
wants to get serious about reversing the decline of American families.
After what has now become obligatory lip service to the importance of
fathers in the "Findings" section, such as that the 25,000,000 children
(now 36% of American children) who grow up without their fathers are:
(A) 5 times more likely to live in poverty; (B) more likely to bring
weapons
and drugs into the classroom; (C) twice as likely to commit crime; D)
twice as likely to drop out of school; (E) twice as likely to be abused;
(F) more likely to commit suicide; (G) more than twice as likely to
abuse alcohol or drugs; and (H) more likely to become pregnant as
teenagers, plus (7) Violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who
grew up without fathers, the "Findings" proceed to their real agenda
with a wildly inflated claim from the fantasyland of the cult religion of
the "domestic violence movement" with Finding (8):
   (8) Between 20 and 30 percent of families in poverty are headed
   by women who have suffered domestic violence during the past
   year and between 40 and 60 percent of women with children
   receiving welfare were abused sometime during their life."
According to the 1985 National Family Violence Survey of the National
Institute of Mental Health (and confirmed by dozens of similar studies),
reality is that overall domestic violence is about 11% by men and 12%
by women, with severe violence about 3% by men and 4% by women.
Domestic violence is a serious issue whether it happens to men or to
women, but wildly exaggerated and one-sided rhetoric, overwhelmingly
biased against fathers, belies any pretense of legitimate concern for
restoration of the institution of fatherhood in this bill.
With Section (8) above, the supporters of this bill announced early on
that they are not yet prepared to deal with the reality on the domestic
violence issue, but are willing to subvert a fatherhood bill by pandering
the tendentious claims of a cult religion, and disgrace Congress by
enacting those false and misleading claims into an Act of Congress.
But it gets worse as you dig deeper into this bill.
          SECTION 2, (13) - DENIGRATION OF MOTHERS?
Section (13) would establish as law the following bizarre statement,
"The promotion of responsible fatherhood and encouragement of married
2-parent families should not-- (A) denigrate the standing or parenting
efforts of single mothers or other caregivers."  It defies comprehension
by a rational mind, how fatherhood can be promoted by enacting false
claims of the abusiveness of fathers into law, but anyone who thinks
this bill is not actually a "Promotion of Motherhood" bill, should be
compelled to explain how fatherhood can be promoted by establishing
government censorship of the reality that a minority of mothers can
be at least equally abusive, such as the tragedy of the mother who
recently murdered her 5 children in Texas.
How can we seek to understand how such a tragedy can happen,
if we are not allowed to talk about it, under a gag order imposed by
Congress?  Everyone knows that "mom and apple pie" are sacred
cows in Congress, but if we are to accept Congressional censorship
of anything that might be taken as critical of some mothers, why not
also make it a crime to denigrate apple pie?   Where does this end?
Apparently it's fine with the authors of this bill, if Federal funding is
used to bash fathers with things like the notorious "Deadbeat Dogs"
media campaign now going on in Alabama, but we dare not say
anything that might be taken as critical of single mothers.  If there
was any pretense to promoting fatherhood, or even just establishing
gender equality, this bill would ban Federal funding for denigration
of single fathers.   Reality is that there is no problem for Congress
to address, of denigration of single mothers in America.  Americans
overwhelming bend over backwards to try to understand the most
incredible acts by mothers, such as in the story in Texas.  When
Congress wants to get serious about promoting fatherhood, which
this bill does not, it will ban Federal funding for the bigotry and
ignorance of denigration of fathers, such as now going on in the
Alabama father-bashing "Deadbeat Dogs" campaign.
Right now, this bill is dealing backwards with a non-reality that arises
from the paranoid fantasy world of passive-aggressive victim feminism,
which seeks to make sure that Federal funding is not used to bash
mothers in the same way that they now bash fathers all the time.
                   SECTION 3 - THE MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Section 3 would establish media campaigns to promote "responsible
fatherhood."  Here we see the reason with the obsession that Federal
funding not be used to denigrate single mothers - namely $25,000,000
a year that will go into fatherhood promotion media campaigns.  We
also see how jealously the domestic violence movement intents to
monitor such campaigns buried in Section 3, 469C, (d), (3):
    (3) CONSULTATION WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ASSISTANCE
    CENTERS- In developing broadcast and printed advertisements to
    be used in the media campaigns conducted under paragraph (1),
    the State or other entity administering the campaign shall consult
    with representatives of State and local domestic violence centers.
Similar "consultation with domestic violence centers" appears in other
places in Senate Bill 653.  This is where the teeth of the "denigration
of single mothers" clause are bared - it is obvious that the purpose is
to ensure that if a fatherhood program says anything the domestic
violence propagandists don't like, such as repeating the findings of
Congress (A) through (H) above, that their funding can be cut off.  It
is really quite incredible that anyone pretending to the promotion of
marriage would support such language.  They must have been asleep
for thirty years not to be aware that most of the domestic violence
cult network is dedicated to the abolition of traditional families by
trashing fathers every way they can.  In fairness, we note that a few
domestic violence centers operate reasonably professional programs
that attempt to provide equal services for both men and women.  But
reality is that most of these centers are hotbeds of radical activism
dedicated to family destruction.  Mandating "consultation" with ALL
such centers amounts to putting fathers under the thumb of those
dedicated to their destruction.
At best, some kind of media campaign might be able to be negotiated
with local domestic violence centers, but all it could do is produce lip
service and pabulum, while failing to address the real issues driving
father absence, which all to often are the domestic violence centers
themselves.  At worst, requiring such "consultation" is a recipe for
disaster, and a waste of $25,000,000 taxpayer dollars a year.
Given that economic distress caused by excessive taxation is a major
cause of family breakdown, and excessive taxation is caused by the
irresponsible way Congress wastes taxpayer dollars on self-defeating
programs like this, it would be more honest to change the name of
this bill to "The Irresponsible Congress Act of 2001."  $25,000,000
may not seem like a lot of money to our great leaders, considering
the billions they waste on other programs, but a low income family
would be lifted out of poverty for $25,000 a year, so we estimate that
the net effect of the money wasted on Section 3 will be another 1,000
families left in grinding poverty by this self-defeating program every
year,
or 5,000 families over the proposed five year life of the program.  Even
more families could be saved if Federal funding was banned for father-
denigrating programs such as Alabama's.  But instead this bill actually
perpetrates father-bashing by trying to maintain the propaganda myths
of the cult "domestic violence" movement, as "official truth."
        SECTION 4 - FATHERHOOD BLOCK GRANTS
Calling for $50 million a year, Section 4 is the heart the bill, and we
believe that some good programs could be structured under Section
4, especially if the same defect calling for "consultation" with DV
centers was eliminated here.  Although government job training
programs have never been very effective, we believe that it is a step
in the right direction to offer services to low-income fathers on an
equal basis with low-income mothers, for "job search, job training,
subsidized employment, job retention, job enhancement", etc.  Even
if the blatant agenda of this program is simply to prop up low-income
fathers until they can pay child support, it is far better to offer some
kind of help, than just continue beating up on such fathers.  In some
cases that might be all that is needed to enable some fathers to
resume at least a marginal role in their children's lives.
But anyone who thinks this is a serious fatherhood bill, should
consider the fine print at Section 4, 469D, (d), (D), (6), to wit:
   (6) RESTRICTIONS ON USE. - No amount allotted under
   this section may be used for court proceedings on matters
   of child visitation, or child custody, or for legislative advocacy.
Despite some $400 million allotted to legal assistance for single
mothers, included in the $3.5 billion flooding into the cult religion
of the "domestic violence" movement under the recently enacted
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), section (6) guarantees
that low-income fathers won't get a penny to balance the scales
of justice.  When Sections 3 and 4 are considered together, the
net effect of Senate Bill 653 is a propaganda program to try to
guilt-trip fathers into trying to being "responsible", and enticing
fathers with a phony "government jobs" program, but without
offering the slightest assistance establishing the rights that are
inherently linked to responsibility, while assuring that this entire
phony program stays firmly under the thumb of radical feminism.
One of the dead give-aways of the conceptual absurdity that
underlies this bill, is buried in fine print in Section 4, 469D, (d),
(2), (A), "Responsible fatherhood programs include ... teaching
on how to control aggressive behavior."  Quite aside from the
fact that "anger management" is not among the Powers of
Congress in the Constitution, Congress really ought to ask
itself why so many millions of people are angry about current
government family policy that it  would even occur to Congress
to malfunction by including this language in a bill before it in
the first place.  If Congress really wants to "control aggressive
behavior", a good place to start would be to repeal the blatant
discrimination of VAWA, and replace it with a gender neutral
Domestic Violence Act that would end the destabilizing effects
on families of the tyranny of crackpot victim feminism.
The best thing we can say for this program, is that at least it
does not prohibit funding for frontal lobotomies, because that's
the only way we see that fathers could be happy putting their
necks on a chopping block, and entrusting their fate to those
dedicated to their destruction.  Given its focus on low-income
inner city fathers, this bill amounts to deceitful 21st Century
version of Uncle Tom racism that will keep fathers down on the
farm picking cotton, with no right to be in the family at all.
         SECTION 5 - A NATIONAL CLEARINGHOUSE?
Section 5 would appropriate $10 million over 5 years to establish
a "National Clearinghouse" for the planned Media Campaign.  It
doesn't openly say what organization would be eligible for this
$10 million windfall, but defines it as a "nationally recognized
nonprofit fatherhood promotion organization" with at least 4 years
experience in designing and implementing a national public
education campaign, with an emphasis on "promoting married
fatherhood as the ideal."  Given that the National Fatherhood
Initiative (NFI) has been heavily involved in pushing Senate Bill
653, a lot of people might argue that NFI is not actually engaged
in promoting fatherhood, but everybody inside the Beltway knows
that NFI is the planned beneficiary for this $10 million windfall
from the long-suffering taxpayer.
Incredibly, Section 5 provides that the "nationally recognized
nonprofit fatherhood promotion organization" shall "coordinate
the media campaign . . . with a national, State, or local domestic
violence program."  Given the obscure and ambiguous language
of this bill, it's hard to say exactly what the Beltway bandits are
up to this time.  It's even harder to believe that anyone at NFI is
foolish enough to think that they will buy "peace in their time",
by trying to appease the National Organization of Women with
this kind of language.  If anyone at NFI imagines that they can
promote marriage by jumping in bed with an organization whose
leader openly states, "The truth of our lives is coming out as
lesbians", they have the same hard lesson to learn that Neville
Chamberlain learned at Munich trying to appease Hitler.  For
ourselves, we can only state that ACFC will have nothing to
do with the deceitful and manipulative aggression against
fathers and families of Senate Bill 653, unless and until the
objectionable parts indicated above are eliminated.
    CONCLUSION - A REAL FATHERHOOD PROGRAM
When Congress decides to get serious about dealing with the
crisis of American families, it will enact several measures that
ACFC has long advocated, and that do not require throwing
hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at a problem that has
been largely created by the anti-father prejudice, ignorance and
bigotry of previous hundreds of billions that have already been
wasted in decades of the war on fathers.  Almost all that is
really needed to re-establish the stability of families, is equal
protection and due process of law for both parents of every
child, married or not, without any new appropriations at all.
1) ESTABLISH A REALISTIC GOAL OF CHILD SUPPORT.
Sound management sets a realistic goal and establishes
an effective plan that will actually accomplish the goal.  The
child support system has consistently failed to achieve its
goal, in part because the goals are unrealistic.  Most states
under the influence of the "Income Shares" child support
model, define the goal of child support as "to achieve the
same standard of living that children would have enjoyed if
the family was intact."  While this sounds reasonable on the
surface, a moment of thought reveals a conceptual flaw that
we believe lies at the root of all the disasters that follow the
Income Shares model.  It is a law of economic gravity that
two families cannot live as cheaply as one.  If an absent
parent is expected to support a custodial household at the
same level they would if the family was intact, all too often
there is NOTHING LEFT for the absent parent to live on.  We
believe that Federal government must accept that divorce and
unmarried parentage have an inevitable negative effect on the
standard of living of children, and insist as a condition of
Federal subsidies, that each state define the goal of child
support as "providing a standard of living comparable to that
of non-intact families whose parents are in comparable
economic circumstances."  The unrealistic "Murphy Brown"
myth that divorce and unmarried parentage are "value free
choices", must be eliminated as a basis of public policy.  This
proposal would require no new appropriations to implement.
2) HOLD BOTH PARENTS EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR
REPAYMENT OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE.  All charitable
and humane societies provide assistance to the poor, and
our society must do so too.  However, one of the bizarre
features deeply entrenched in our current system, is that
one parent typically applies for assistance that they have
no obligation to repay, but the government attempts to
recover this money from someone else who usually had
nothing to do with the request for public assistance.  One
of the best ways to discourage unnecessary applications
for public assistance, would be to hold the parent who
applies for it, equally responsible with the other parent for
eventual repayment.  This would also greatly increase the
chance of eventual repayment of public assistance.  This
proposal would require no new appropriations to implement.
3) ENFORCE QUADRENNIAL REVIEW PROCEDURES
States are currently required to review their child support
guidelines at least every four years to assure that they are
fair and reasonable, and that child support awards are
appropriate, but there is no penalty for failing to conduct an
acceptable review.  We have seen state review panels admit
that there is no rational basis for their guideline, particularly
for the Income Shares guidelines, but simply continue to
use these flawed guidelines.  We believe that the Federal
government must set criteria for acceptable guidelines, and
establish penalties for states that fail to meet acceptable
criteria.  This would require minimal administrative costs,
and quite likely be revenue positive because of penalties,
while increasing the fairness of child support guidelines.
4) BLOCK GRANT CHILD SUPPORT SUBSIDIES.  We
believe that many of the horror stories of false claims
are caused by the current misguided incentive program
that rewards states for collecting false claims.  We note
that "percentage" or "cost plus" incentive systems are
recognized as inherently unethical in most professional
fields, and believe that they have the same effect here.
We believe that the current incentive systems should
be replaced by a block grant program based on current
expenditures that would stabilize current programs, and
provide an incentive to efficiency, instead of an incentive
to collect every last claim, whether or not it is fair and
reasonable, or even lawful.  A block grant program at
current levels would be revenue neutral for now, and as
the crisis of families subsides from other measures, it
should eventually be revenue positive.
5) ELIMINATE CONFLICTS-OF-INTEREST.  A number of
private companies are now engaged in providing both child
support guideline consulting and collection services.  There
is an inherent conflict-of-interest between being involved in
influencing guidelines, and profiting from collections based
on those guidelines.  We believe that the Federal government
should establish a policy that it will not contract with any
company or individual for child support consulting services,
nor will it reimburse states for doing so, if that company or
individual is also engaged in, or has a business interest in,
providing child support collection services.  This proposal
would require no new appropriations to implement.
6) PROSECUTE FRAUD IN FALSE CLAIMS.  The ACFC
Child Support Survey of over 2,000 non-custodial and non-
custodial parents, confirming similar press reports and
state audits, indicates up to a 54% error rate in child
support claims.  Causes range from clerical errors to what
appear to be over-zealous or cultic ideological motivations.
Whatever the cause, with increasingly automated seizures,
it is an extremely serious situation when a parent cannot
get an error corrected without making a Federal case of it,
as is all too often case, because any seizure outside due
process of law, undermines confidence in the legitimacy of
government upon which social order depends.  We note that
when an over-zealous bureaucrat inflates collection claims
to "qualify" for increased Federal incentive payments, this
amounts to a fraud on the taxpayer in violation of 18 USC
242.  A block-grant program per (4) above would eliminate
most of the incentive to defraud the taxpayer, but we must
recognize that empire-building bureaucrats will always be
with us, and fraud that is also a crime against parents will
never be entirely eliminated.  Millions of American fathers
have fought and died to defend the principles of limited
representative government that made America great, but
this nation will not long endure if it betrays that dedication
and sacrifice by allowing fathers to be deprived of their
property without due process of law.  Whatever the cost
of maintaining the principle that law applies to the rulers
as well as the ruled, the cost of not maintaining the rule
of law against a cult ideology motivated by old-fashioned
greed and envy is certainly far greater.  Fair and reasonable
child support must be paid when due, but this policy must
be balanced by strict due process of law, or the millions
of family disasters that we have already seen will be
magnified into total a national meltdown.
7) ADOPT PRESUMPTIVE 50-50 SHARED PARENTING.
The Supreme Court has often held that a right to the care,
custody and nurture of our children is one of the most
fundamental liberty rights, and cannot be abridged without
a showing of compelling state interest.  The sole mother
custody model of divorce, with visitation and child support
by the father, is not inherently unworkable.  It could and
does work tolerably well in about 50% of cases where child
support is fair and reasonable, and where the mother has
sufficient emotional maturity and sense of responsibility to
her children to facilitate visitation, and to resist temptations
offered by minions of the courts and social service agencies
that have grown up around the sole mother custody model of
divorce.  Reality is that although the "tender years" doctrine
was long ago found unconstitutional, it survives sub rosa,
rationalized as a "primary care-giver" doctrine.  This blind
prejudice is as open as ever to exploitation by those who
would sabotage parent/child relationships to their own
empire-building advantage.  Theoretically, the sole mother
custody model of divorce could work, but if the last thirty
years have proven nothing else, it is that is that in millions
of cases, once Humpty-Dumpty has been knocked off the
wall, all the king's horses and men cannot put a father back
in his child's life again in a meaningful way.  We may need
a revolution in our thinking comparable to overturning the
"separate but equal" doctrine in public education, but we
believe that it is long past time to recognize that if we truly
want parental equality, we must establish the principles of
equality of rights and responsibilities of a presumption of
50-50 shared parenting to the greatest extent practical,
as the fall-back position of law, if the parents themselves
cannot agree otherwise.  The best way that the Federal
government could take the lead in establishing equality
in the family, without any new appropriations, would be
to mandate adoption of a rebuttable presumption of 50-
50 shared parenting as a condition of Federal assistance
to state social service programs, and to enforce penalties
to the extent that states fail to achieve equality of rights
and responsibilities in support of our children.

FROM ACFC

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