• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Murray Amendment Defeat Spells Small Hope for Welfare Reform

    Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

    Yesterday the Senate beat back an amendment offered by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to the tax extenders bill that would have continued for another six months a policy aimed at undoing welfare reform.

    The policy was originally created as part of last year’s infamous Stimulus package in the form of the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Emergency Fund.  It was supposed to be a “temporary” measure, however, the President in his 2011 budget and now Congress are actively looking for ways to extend it. This anti-reform fund pays states “bonus” money for increasing the size of their welfare caseloads without any incentives to place people into jobs and off of the dole.  This fund, if continued, will undermine the great successes of the 1996 welfare reform.

    The 1996 welfare reform law fundamentally changed how welfare worked.  The old system known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was an open-ended entitlement that reimbursed states on a per case basis.  Welfare reform ended this practice and instead put in place a fixed block grant through which states received the same amount of funding year to year without regard to the actual size of their caseload.  In addition, states were required to have at least 50 percent of their caseload engaged in some kind of work or work preparedness activity or else face a fiscal penalty.

    Because of this reform, millions of families moved out of inter-generational poverty and into self-sufficiency and employment.  Between 1996 and 2009 over 2.8 million families left the welfare rolls.  In addition, the child poverty rate dropped and in particular the black child poverty rate hit historic lows.  Employment for never-married mothers rose rapidly.

    Unfortunately, since taking office, President Obama has sought to curb this success in the name of “stimulus.”  His 2011 budget requests to continue this program for another year costing $2.5 billion.  Fortunately, Senator Murray’s amendment that would have extended the program for another 6 months was defeated yesterday.  But beware, there are sure to be more attempts in the near future to attach this measure to other legislative vehicles.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Murray Amendment Defeat Spells Small Hope for Welfare Reform

    1. Roger, Jacksonville says:

      What is the old saying? "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". Why take something that has worked and attempt to dismantle it for no other reason than ideology? "You don't have to do a thing simply because you can".

    2. Billie says:

      It's time to demand government's detailed definitions of the words "needy" and "poverty." These acts of government is their admission of superiority amongst the people. GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR FREEDOM! OUR EDUCATION! OUR ECONOMY! OUR HEALTH CARE, the privacy of OUR LIVES!

    3. Dan of Apple Valley says:

      You can bet this administration will be changing the name of their temporary entitlement program TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) to a permanent program renamed SUCS (Socialist Union Care Stimulus).

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×