Today, Councilmember Marion Barry and/or his ghostwriter writes an op-ed addressing his controversial TANF legislation that would impose a five-year limit on public assistance and a host of other aid to District residents. Is this guy trying to score a book deal? Become the next Bill Cosby?

Debate after the jump!

Barry writes or “writes”:

“My legislation, while imperfect and incomplete, is intended to start a serious dialogue on how to break the cycle of generational poverty, government dependency and economic disparity in the city.

At present, the District is one of only a few jurisdictions in the country that spend local government funds to allow TANF aid to go on indefinitely. Unfortunately, this unsound provision in our local law has been coupled with a system that has failed our residents for years. The result has been to enslave residents in joblessness and dependency on the government rather than lifting them up and giving them an opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency through job training and employment.

That’s one reason the District now has 17,505 families receiving TANF benefits, with over 40 percent receiving benefits for more than five years. We must do better.”

Barry could have started this conversation years ago. His ward has had staggering unemployment, staggeringly bad schools, and, of course, entrenched crime for years. His measure might make sense if he’d done more than set up phony nonprofits to address these issues. And, well, the councilmember wants to limit more than TANF benefits, according to Bread for the City.

Bread for the City had this to say about Barry’s TANF proposal:

“If passed, this legislation would limit TANF recipients to 60 months (5 years) of TANF benefits. Even worse, the current language would make families ineligible for all public benefits – no Medicaid, no child care, no food stamps, no homeless shelter.

Research has shown that these harsh tactics are not effective at encouraging work. They are likely to result in higher rates of child poverty, with many families disconnected from any form of support.”

*Yesterday, Loose Lips posted a story about Barry’s war with WaPo’s editorial board.