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  • Welfare in the Bronx: Personal Responsibility Is Still the Key

    “Need Welfare in the Bronx? Come Back Tomorrow, Maybe” — that’s the title of a recent Womensenews.org piece that questions the success of welfare reform. Caseloads may have dropped, argues author Anna Limontas-Salisbury, but the system leaves those in need feeling frustrated and discouraged. Specifically, she blames the system’s inefficiencies on the ’96 reforms — the ones that inserted work requirements and time limits into the main federal cash-assistance program and created Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

    The author is correct that the current welfare system is in need of reform, but work requirements are not the root of the problem. The real trouble is the fact that such requirements have been watered down.

    The purpose of TANF was to add an element of human dignity to a system that pushed people into a cycle of government dependence, required little accountability of recipients, and negligently left people on the dole for an average of 13 years. It gave states incentives to help welfare recipients into the workforce.

    Unfortunately, work requirements are all but nonexistent today. For the system to do what was intended, the original work requirements must be restored. Furthermore, other welfare programs need to promote personal responsibility through work, too. Few people realize that TANF is only one of more than 70 means-tested federal welfare programs — such as Food Stamps, public housing, Medicaid, and the earned income tax credit — which this year amount to some $900 billion in aid for poor and low-income Americans.

    Remarkably, the amount government spends on means-tested welfare is four times what would be necessary to lift every poor person out of poverty. Clearly, just spending more on welfare isn’t the answer. To reduce poverty, the government should require able-bodied adult welfare recipients to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. To accomplish this, the original, successful work requirements of the TANF program should be established for other welfare programs.

    Limontas-Salisbury points out that the majority of welfare recipients are single mothers. This is no surprise, considering that single motherhood is the greatest predictor of poverty. At a time when the out-of-wedlock birthrate is at an all-time high — 41 percent overall and 72 percent for African Americans — the government can demonstrate seriousness about helping those in need by promoting marriage, which it could do by continuing healthy-marriage programs (another part of the 1996 welfare reforms) and by strengthening efforts to promote marriage through other sectors of society.

    The answer to helping the poor is not to increase handouts or make them more readily available. Personal responsibility must be the fundamental element of every welfare program — and part of helping people into self-reliance is emphasizing the role of marriage. Without these reforms,government will only be creating more dependence.

    Cross-posted at The Corner.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Welfare in the Bronx: Personal Responsibility Is Still the Key

    1. dannyroberts Phoenix says:

      no one that i ever knew would want to see a family in need and i know most americans would reach out and help in any way they could, and in many cases they do,but i've also witnessed first hand, the abuse of the system. our tax dollars are going down a rat hole in every city in america.the bigger government gets the less oversite there will be.

      we really need to get a handle on the wastefull spending.there has to be one honest congress man or woman, or an honest senator, that would see the truth for what it is and act on it for the good of all americans.

      i know a young lady,in the new york area who has been recieving

      3, yes three different welfare checks per month.3 ex husbands ,three

      different addresses and on occasion i drove her to serveral different welfare locations and watched her get her checks.i made a remark

      and she just laughed and said "hey free money man" go figure!!

    2. Billie says:

      people have been fed and misled by government for too long. I pray their will of dignity to carry on their own lives without dependence of government but faith in freedom and friends and family. Church and charities. The goodwill of mankind, especially faith in themselves,.

    3. petal,bronxny.10473 says:

      when they put people on disability they should be giving them a check no having you on disability since 2008 and you cannot work and you stay at home so long and they keep telling you you are not eligebly for any thing still not getting any thing not fair at all.

    4. jonny says:

      I would rather die than be on welfare,equals freedom.Then be on welfare and depend on someone for my very exhistance,=slavery-

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