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  • Welfare Dependence Keeps Growing

    According to a recent Wall Street Journal article citing 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly half (48.5 percent) of America’s population now lives in households that receive some sort of government benefit. That is nearly a 10 percent increase over the middle of the recession in 2008, when that number was 44.4 percent.

    The above graph illustrates the alarming rate at which Americans are becoming more dependent on government. It serves as a nice complement to this graph, showing the explosion of government spending since the “War on Poverty” was declared 47 years ago. Since that time, the steady expansion and implementation of new government welfare programs has cost trillions of dollars.

    Unfortunately, government welfare spending shows no sign of slowing down. Means-tested welfare spending is the fastest-growing element of government expenditures, and government spending on welfare is projected to cost taxpayers $10.3 trillion over the next decade. These numbers highlight the urgency of further welfare reform.

    Those in favor of comprehensive reform have history on their side. The Republican Congress of 15 years ago demonstrated that welfare reform works. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) replaced the failed Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, inserting time limits and work requirements into the largest cash assistance program. Subsequently, millions of Americans left welfare for jobs. Seven years after the reforms were passed, 3.5 million fewer individuals were living in poverty, and employment among the most disadvantaged sections of the population had rapidly increased. However, while the reforms implemented at that time were successful, they were not truly “the end of welfare as we know it.” The 1996 reforms touched just one welfare program, yet the federal government operates more than 70. The successful policies of the1990s have been significantly watered down since that time, and further reform is needed.

    Katherine Bradley and Robert Rector have proposed a number of ways to curb the welfare state:

    1. Restoring welfare spending to pre-recession levels. Once unemployment levels drop to 6.5 percent, the government should cap welfare spending at fiscal year 2007 levels.

    2. Eliminating marriage penalties and encouraging marriage among low-income communities. Statistics show that more than seven in 10 poor families are supported by unwed heads of household. It is no coincidence that poverty rates are reaching unprecedented heights at the same time as out-of-wedlock births.
    3. Emphasizing work and promoting personal responsibility. During the previous round of reforms, very few government benefits (such as food stamps) were tied to work requirements. Since those programs were successful in promoting work over dependence, they should be applied on a larger scale.

    Practical reforms like these will help put the United States back on course financially by promoting the principles of self-reliance and personal responsibility.

    Kevin Reagan is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm


    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Welfare Dependence Keeps Growing

    1. Bobbie says:

      It dropped under Bush and than a steady incline! This just reveals the stellar education government provides! Government education teaches social worth not self worth and if teaching included self motivation (which is the inherent skill of the person who chooses to be a teacher) there would be a definite decline!

      What is being taught in the expensive public education area that leaves us with this ugly result of government dependency? Who knows unless you're present everyday! People have commented on how everyone benefits from an educated society? That only depends on what's being educated beyond our control! This reveals that no one benefits from public education when government dependency grows.

    2. Jason M says:

      This welfare argument brings alarming concerns to the state of America. Government should not be this big, where Americans are depending on the
      government to live their daily lives. This articles states almost 50% of Americans receive some sort of government benefit. The bigger
      government gets, the more dependent society is on government. That doesn't sound like democracy, but in turn it sounds like another form of
      government. I like the fact this article touched on responsibility and how restoring this value and others such as family and less government
      could relieve the dependence that Americans have on the government. America may not be able to get out of its troubles if it doesn't change its
      values to what they used to be. Time has shown that when certain values are a focal point in American society, the economy and the people

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