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  • Family Fact of the Week: How Welfare Reform Helped Families

    The best anti-poverty program is a job. That was the mantra of the 1996 welfare reform, which changed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, for the first time requiring able-bodied welfare recipients to work or prepare for work in order to receive government assistance.

    The reforms were a major success. State caseloads declined after decades of stagnation as people began to leave welfare for jobs. (continued below chart)

    Last Thursday, however, the Obama Administration decided to gut welfare reform of its critical work requirement, issuing a directive to waive the work requirement. This action is not only an affront to the rule of law but also strangles the principles of work and personal responsibility that helped so many individuals and families.

    During the four decades prior to the 1996 welfare reform, the number of participants on welfare remained steady. Within just a few years of TANF’s implementation, however, the number of caseloads was cut in half, and employment rates and earnings among the poor increased. Nearly 3 million families left welfare for work.

    The child poverty rates declined significantly. Roughly 3 million fewer children lived in poverty in 2003 than in 1995, including 1.2 million fewer black children, marking the lowest level of black child poverty in the nation’s history.

    Rather than keeping people trapped on government welfare—for an estimated average of 13 years prior to the reform—welfare moved people from government dependence into work. It aimed to break the cycles of government dependence and give children growing up in poor families greater hope of not later ending up on welfare themselves.

    However, the successful work requirements of welfare reform have been severely hampered over the years. The Obama Administration’s move last Thursday will effectively obliterate the work requirement completely.

    Two of the greatest contributors to poverty in the United States are the lack of work among low-income persons, even in good economic times, and the increasingly high rate of unwed childbearing. Not only has the President failed to address these issues, but his Administration has now completely diminished the importance of work.

    Helping individuals and families achieve self-reliance should be the goal of any sound welfare program. The welfare reforms of 1996 embraced this goal and, by doing so, helped move people off of government dependence.

    Rather than turning back the clocks on welfare reform, work requirements should be restored, allowing individuals to help themselves and giving families and children hope for a future free from government dependence.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Family Fact of the Week: How Welfare Reform Helped Families

    1. Curtis Smith says:

      This ought to be headlinwe news and you put it so far out ouf the mainstream news that hardly anyone sees it. Why is that? A complete dismantling of the requirement to work to receive welfare payments is huge and in total contradiction to the welfare reform act of 1996. This president is out of control and has to be stopped!!!

    2. Mary says:

      I'm sure the author would like this to make mainstream news, as it should. But unfortunately, she doesn't have much control over that.

    3. Jud Shaplin says:

      I am not sure it is a Good Idea to hype how Welfare Rolls have dropped because of Republican Policy.

      Why is this?

      Because in this time period Poverty itself has RISEN! So are you claiming Success in that while MORE PEOPLE are in Poverty than before 1996, LESS are receiving Assistance. The Heritage Foundation must think Americans are pretty Gullible..

      1995 – 13.8% of Americans fell under the Poverty Line (36.4 Million)

      2010 – 15.1% of Americans fell under the Poverty Line (46.2 Million)

      So are you really saying that with More People living in Poverty and the PERCENTAGE also going up… That it is a 'GOOD' thing for less of them to get assistance?

      When will America figure out you sell a false bill of goods? If you can not sell your Ideas Honestly, then maybe they are not good Ideas at their Core? Food for thought.

      • Mr Happy-N-Texas says:

        For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests near destitution: an inability to provide nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter for one’s family. However, only a small number of the 46 million persons classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity.

        Liberals use the declining relative prices of many amenities to argue that it is no big deal that poor households have air conditioning, computers, cable TV, and wide-screen TV. They contend, polemically, that even though most poor families may have a house full of modern conveniences, the average poor family still suffers from substantial deprivation in basic needs, such as food and housing. In reality, this is just not true.

        A little more "Food for thought."

        • Jud Shaplin says:

          It is quite obvious you have never been poor. ALL 15.1% of those people struggle to pay rent, to purchase food, to pay for health care…. BTW the MAJORITY of that 15.1%? CHILDREN… That is right..
          Most of that 15.1% that you seem to think would have no problem getting enough food because they are only Poor not 'Super Poor' are in fact Children.

          It is exactly that mind set I am referring to when I mention Gullible Americans. The Mind set that some people are 'only a little poor' and that because they are not absolutely DESTITUTE they deserve no help or assistance.

          For you to argue that it is no problem for these folks being poor because 'amenities' prices went down is Ludicrous. Those elderly that die in Heat Waves? Keep thinking 'No Big Deal the cost of AC went down' …. they still can not afford it.. and they still die in the heat.

          I have yet to meet a Person on Food Assistance that has a Wide Screen TV.. I know more than a few, do you? Mr. Happy N Texas why would you even try to say people getting less food assistance is Okay because the Cost of Cable TV has gone down?

          I have thought on your Food, and I have spit it out in Disgust.

          BTW Quote a source other than this Org… It is never good policy to Quote yourself when citing Information.

    4. Bobbie says:

      Poverty has risen because of the costs of government weighing on the costs of independence. We qualify for alot of government goodies but are against the government doing what they shouldn't get in the way for us to do for ourselves. We'll keep our dignity.

      Left with uncertainty year to year because government plans their livelihoods in advance of the private sector and regardless of their costly governed consequences or financial instability in the private sector also caused by government intervention. We don't like the financial position we're put in by no doings of our own but by the controls and costs of government out of our reach. Helping themselves just because we exist.

      Obama doesn't encourage self reliance because it conflicts with his anything but American, agenda. He goes out of his unconstitutional way to manipulate minorities thinking they aren't capable of maintaining self reliance. Too many who are much wiser, fall for it that needs to see the degradation put on them and stand against! We'll lose our independence if people don't start living the American way it was intended for all people to live. Free and independent from government: control, dependency and authority.

      • Jud Shaplin says:

        Poverty has gone up during each successive Republican Administration.

        LBJ cut Poverty by 50%

        1979 was when the Poverty rate started Ticking up… During Reagan.

        It Kept that trend until Clinton when it started Dropping again..

        After Bush we have seen it At the highest level since the 1940's

        I am saying to you.. that Republican Fend for yourselves Ideology sounds all Great, but in Practice (The Key word) it in fact leads to greater Poverty.

        Statistics show this quite clearly.

        BTW in that time of rising Poverty since LBJ…

        Unions have gone from Nearly Half of the Private Work Force, to 7% of that Workforce.

        Do you think this is just coincidence?

        Do you think it is just Coincidence that the Average Wage of Americans during this time period when adjusted for Inflation has also gone Down?

        • Bobbie says:

          If poverty is determined by the government welfare recipient role, it sends the wrong message. People today living off incomes with government subsidies included and those living off welfare alone, live much higher standard than those who self govern because those who self govern aren't tax exempt and when nothing increases on the payrolls of the self governed but taxes, what do you purpose will happen??! Democrats are guilty of exploiting personal weakness for political gain!

          I don't think anything the government has unconstitutional control over is coincidental.

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