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Allen Quist: Poor people game system, divorce to get welfare benefits

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Published on Oct 6, 2012

At a press conference in Winona on October 2, Republican congressional candidate Allen Quist said in answer to a question that asked, in light of the high divorce rate, what was being defended by efforts to get an amendment restricting the right to marry to heterosexual couples. The first part of Quist's answer--that government shouldn't say who should get married--has been much reported, since Quist favors passage of the marriage restriction amendment. Unnoticed in that flap: the second part of his statement, in which he says that people living in poverty game the system and get divorced in order to collect benefits. He calls this an important reason for the high divorce rate in the United States. While there is a relationship between low income status and single parent households, Bluestem found little evidence that married couples were divorcing in order to collect benefits; indeed, the Healthy Marriage Initiative and the Marriage Movement are geared toward encouraging marriage, and Quist seems to have asserted causality where there is none. And though he's on record here talking about poor people gaming the system, he also likes to assure other audiences that he has nothing against the poor.

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