• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Guest Blogger: Reboot the Welfare System

    To most Americans, the phrase “welfare reform” conjures memories of a bipartisan law that President Clinton said would “end welfare as we know it” in 1996. So why – 15 years later – has the situation only gotten worse?

    First, a little background (watch this quick video, too). The 1996 law replaced a failing program (AFDC) with a new one (TANF) that required able-bodied adults to either work or prepare for work in order to receive benefits. These requirements have helped millions of families become able to provide for themselves again.

    So far, so good … except that combined state and federal welfare spending has almost doubled since 1996. Americans have spent $16 trillion on welfare since President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in 1964, and we’re slated to spend another $10 trillion or more over the next decade. But even with all these resources put toward assistance for the poor, poverty is actually higher today than it was in the 1970s.

    Decades of experience prove we can’t just throw money at the problem of poverty.  We need a smarter approach that promotes self-reliance and acknowledges the interconnected nature of all our anti-poverty programs. That’s why it is vital to have welfare reform now.

    • Build on the Success of 1996 – The most effective welfare benefit is the one that leads to a job, which is why we should apply new TANF-like work requirements to food stamp benefits.
    • Account for the National Welfare Budget – The federal government has 77 different programs run by various agencies that provide benefits and assistance specifically to poor and low-income Americans. We should give taxpayers a clearer picture of total welfare spending at the state, local, and federal level by requiring the President to report these figures in his annual budget.
    • Return to Pre-Recession Budget – After unemployment falls to 6.5% or lower, overall federal spending on means-tested welfare should return to its 2007-level and be allowed to grow with inflation.

    The aim of welfare should be to help people reach the point where they no longer need it. Yet our current system too often fails to meet that goal, even as the financial costs grow unsustainably. Don’t let the system crash. Reboot it with the welfare reform now.

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is Chairman of the Republican Study Committee

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Guest Blogger: Reboot the Welfare System

    1. Joy, Boston says:

      Families that are struggling due to low-wages require public assistance. I am earning 35% less than prior to the recession. With 30 million Americans unemployed, how do propose to transition those on welfare to becoming employed.

    2. Bobbie says:

      America: Those who aren't employed need to seek employment on their own. Those who struggle with less income have to help themselves to do what they can without dependence on government. It's the government's job to give us the tools necessary to make this country business friendly, so jobs are plentiful and those that dream of the freedom to prosper under ownership of their own business, can live out their dream without the influence and this overreaching government. Government has become the interference that stalls our individual abilities.

      As government continues to needlessly over burden us, eventually we'll all be with one alternative, government gravy train! We don't want that and we struggle everyday to avoid. Government dependency is NOT FREEDOM!

      Remember, where you're not in control, government is. We can't control the actions of government behind our backs, we can only suffer the consequences.

      Today we're ignored as government targets the money earned in the private sector protecting government and it's unions that do not generate their own revenue and by the actions of government with their lack of discipline, seems to be no amount is satisfactory. Less of the private sector means more, bigger government resulting in higher expenses, leaving less freedom, principles, values, and individual control we have of ourselves… the government was never suppose to accommodate lifestyles, they're suppose to protect America's freedoms and values.

    3. Russell D'Anna says:

      You should be ashamed! Why would you participate in the fraudulent insertion of the Strike clause in HR 1135? The reason folks strike in the first place is assure that they make enough money to feed their family. And you have the gall to take away stamps from the whole family–including kids.

      Not is this act immoral, un-Christian and is a great deception to your constituents. Everybody knows this is just another ruse to break up Unions. They are (were) the backbone of our middle class. I am not a Union man, but I can sympathize with them when I see the these despicable Republican tactics.

      Looks like Recall Time .

    4. Bobbie says:

      GOVERNMENT UNIONS WERE NEVER THE BACKBONE OF THIS COUNTRY! Only the front bone of corruption! If government wasn't busy making it impossible to live independently, people could afford to feed their families without food stamps. The qualifications are broad and Mrs. Obama has been preaching loud and clear "CHILDREN ARE OBESE." All parts of the welfare system need reform. Too much fraud! Christianity builds inner strength, government keeps the weak, weak and you sympathetic.

      NOTHING TO DO WITH PRIVATE SECTOR UNIONS!

    5. Donald G. McLeod, Ot says:

      If I read this quote I see the real goal.

      "Christianity builds inner strength, government keeps the weak, weak and you sympathetic."

      It is not just unions or government that is the enemy it is anything that is deemed to be a threat to Christianity. The only legitimate safety net is Jesus. Even if it means misery and shorter lives that come with eating plastic food that someone making $10k can afford. With health care cost per family of 4 targeting this same $10k figure is it any surprise people look to myth. Self-reliance is a myth.

    6. David Briggs, St. Lo says:

      I am a 26 year old High school grad. After realizing that the lie that everyone has to go to college to get a good job, is entirely rediculous, I went out and got a job. I started low on the totem pole, worked hard, learned, and moved up when possible. Now, being the guy that hires people, I realize that no matter what your age, no matter what your race, no matter what your gender, YOUR ABILITY TO DO WELL IS DEPENDENT ENTIRELY ON YOU. If your pride keeps you from taking a job as a burger flipper after being laid off from some well- paid job, congratulations: you are going to 'need' welfare or unemployment benifets.

      However, consider if these assistance programs were more difficult to come by, and did less for you, you might just go and get a lesser paid job rather than go hungry. If a window plant is suddenly partially blocked from the sun, it will grow and shift to reach-out for the life giving sun. Otherwise it dies. When we can grow a pair as a country and start forcing people to take personal responsability, we will see many more flourish without government assistance.

      But what do I know, I'm just a college drop-out.

      • Tina says:

        I am glad that you have reached management status without a high school education. But just to inform you there are people that are willing to take jobs that pay less money, but are not being hired. You make it seem as though a person can go into a company and say I'll take this job, it does not work like that. Many people are not even being interviewed because of age, how long they have been out of work, how much money they made at their last job and the list goes on. There are people that do take jobs flipping burgers, doing laundry, window washing, drying cars at the car wash etc and are still unable to pay rent, buy groceries, pay bills with what they are being paid. Would you suggest that they turn down unemployment, food stamps or medical insurance (if they can get it) from the government. These programs are designed to help people that are trying to make it and can't alone.

    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.

    ×