Welfare reform refers to changes in the operation of a given welfare system. This provides funding for basic living expenses for all American citizen efficiently through an electronic benefit system and that income taxes be converted to a flex tax without the standard deductions or proposal exemption. The current system that we now have has 13 independent programs and has many problems associated with it the inconsistent treatment of low-income Americans, also not having enough benefits for those in extreme poverty and also work and marriage penalties. If we allow a new, more simplified welfare system that pays cash to low income citizens this would most definitely solve these problems. Low income citizens would much prefer the cash than the myriad of in-kind benefits they receive today and most likely could stretch the dollars much further to improve their standard of living. This would give the poor far more opportunity, freedom, dignity and most of all control over their lives. This would ultimately make welfare more affordable for the tax payer.
If we look into all 13 antipoverty programs of the federal government as a welfare system in whole, we can quickly determine that this program is very ineffective and expensive. As a people our goal should be to seek welfare reform of the whole system. Trying to change the program in bits and pieces will not solve the solution. If we do that we are saying that we agree with the structure and independence of the current programs. Welfare reform should also include a quid pro quo for welfare recipients, quid pro quo means an equal exchange or substitution. At the same time this would change the way some tax payers look at the philosophy of welfare and also how they look at the people who are receiving it. If we were to add certain responsibilities before benefits are paid giving the recipients opportunity to give back with volunteer work, or making it mandatory for the recipient to further their education or helping with community service this could change the way people look at this program. Pure handouts only makes it easier for the recipient welfare recipients should want to do something for the good of themselves and their country in return for the dollars they receive. I think by putting this mandatory stipulation on the citizens who are receiving welfare should help to improve their education or job training helping at local charities, schools or otherwise within their communities could motivate the recipient to want to excel further in life and give them a more positive outlook on their life and also their future. This should not be looked at as a call for government employment for the people on welfare, we should be trying to turn our program into a “give in order to receive” type program (quid pro quo) instead of just a “hand out” as it exists today. The majority of Americans should want a welfare system that tries to encourage work not one that penalizes it. This is the unintended consequence of the invention of 13 independent, uncoordinated programs. Having a work penalty imbedded inside of the welfare system has most Americans very upset they question the system wondering how such a system could not be reformed over the years. But the real reality of it all is that if we as a people don’t push Washington for reform the political leaders simply will not find the need to take on the challenge.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program that pays cash to low income Americans. This program is one of the oldest programs that still exists in the federal government and is structured to move welfare recipients from welfare to work over a 5 year period. This program will help encourage the recipients to find jobs and further their education.
In 1996 the TANF was created in the welfare reform it is the successor to aid the AFDC program. The Families with Dependent Children had become synonymous with the term welfare and TANF there often thought of in the same way. In 1992, as a presidential candidate, Bill Clinton pledged to “end welfare as we know it” by requiring families receiving welfare to work after two years. In 1994, Clinton introduced a welfare reform proposal that would provide job training coupled with time limits and subsidized jobs for those having difficulty finding work but he was defeated. After the Senate voted 74-24 and the House voted 256-170 in favor of welfare reform legislation, formally known as the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), Clinton signed the bill into law on August 22, 1996. PRWORA replaced AFDC with TANF replacing this program with TANF dramatically changed the requirements of how the federal government and states determine eligibility and provide aid for needy families.
While much has been written, analyzed and learned from AFDC and TANF, the program today is a small part of the welfare landscape representing less than 5% of federal spending on welfare. Supporters of reform argue that the work requirement dropped case loads, put people to work, decreased the number of people in poverty and saved the government billions. Critics argue that reform hurt the poor because individuals could not find jobs, were forced out of the program and sought help elsewhere including other federal programs. Welfare may encourage some recipients not to seek work, since a rise in income would disqualify them from receiving free benefits. Fraud has also been a result of some recipients in a desperate ploy to receive assistants from the government. One of the disadvantages of welfare is the cost of the local government. Also states feel the burden of welfare in their annual budget. The goal of the social welfare system in the United States is to help families with assistance in meeting their financial obligations and also assist with healthcare and education.
Congress passed the welfare reform agenda in 2003 the reform goals were built on the 1996 reform act. In 2003 the goals were to provide help to individuals and also families in achieving financial independence from our government. Two objectives of the reform was protecting children and strengthening families these were very important aspects of this reform. State and local governments were asked to assist these individuals and families in gaining this independent status. Having the ability to meet the needs of your family and also being able to support yourself without economic assistance from the government is vital to the health and economy of the nation. These reforms were an effort to make a way for this to happen. In 2004, the Welfare-to-Work program ended, but millions of Americans lives were changed for the better.
In 2005 the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program continued to help struggling families. Over 60 years ago the first welfare initiative was started and welfare has changed and the country has grown while the needs of individuals and families began to vary. Responding to these changes, leaders of the country made reforms and reauthorized the existing welfare legislation. One of the first changes went into effect according to House Democrats, prohibiting the use of EBT cards in liquor stores and casinos. This change help to put restrictions on how recipients used their benefits. Welfare spending has increased by 16 fold since the war on poverty began in the 1960s. During Obama’s first term in office welfare has increased by more than a third, and until the economy recovers it is not projected to decrease. Our government spends nearly 1 trillion dollars on 80 deferent welfare programs, which are spread across a dozen federal agencies every year. After 5 decades of a growing welfare system welfare seems to be on a more prudent path. Studies have indicated that state sanctions could be the most reliable predictor at the state level of welfare caseloads declines.
However, benefit levels have gone largely unexamined in the policy literature on caseload declines. Some states experienced considerably larger caseload declines than others. Welfare caseloads have been cut nearly in half and employment of the most disadvantaged single mothers has increased from 50 percent to 100 percent. The current position of the economy does have an effect on AFDC/TANT caseloads, irrespective of the economic conditions, caseload trends before and after reform is enormous due to the impact of welfare reform policies. Three goals when congress restructures the TANF program this year is to reduce dependence and increase employment, reduce child poverty; and reduce illegitimacy and strengthen marriage structures” (Franklin D. Roosevelt State of the Union Address of 1935, n.d.). Ronald Reagan once said, “We should measure welfare's success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added. Americans it is important to remember the foundations our country was founded on but also that times have changed. All citizens should work for their money and shouldn’t rely on those who do to help pay for their expenses” (Dennis, n.d.). Over the years welfare Reform has changed for the better to assist a low family to a middle class income.
Our concerns as Americans when we’re talking about the welfare reform system should not be the cost but the way that our 77 different federal welfare programs create a lifestyle of dependency contributing to the deterioration of the American family and the American spirit. Welfare programs and unemployment benefits sometimes discourage people from searching from for jobs. Up to 40million Americans are not incapable of creating a lifestyle for themselves or their family. Sometimes having a low- wage job is often the necessary step to finding a better paying job. Yes there should be short term assistance but some Americans figure why should they take a low wage job when the government will pay just as much for doing nothing. It is hard to describe workfare as anything other than creating a supply of forced labor.
Kathleen Shaw, former Associate Professor of Urban Education at Temple University, Philadelphia stated in her Welfare “Reform” Act of 1996″ Keeping Poor from Good Jobs, Shaw goes on to say, “For poor people, the country has firmly embraced a work-first ideology. But of course middle-class people, and even working-class people, are taking a human capital approach for their say, “For poor people, the country has firmly embraced a work-first ideology. But of course middle-class people, and even working-class people, are taking a human capital approach for their own kids. They aren’t sending their kids out into the job market when they’re 18 years old. They’re own kids. They aren’t sending their kids out into the job market when they’re 18 years old. They’re sending them to college.” “So the people who are making the laws are living a human capital approach, but they’re forcing the poor sending them to college.” (Ross, n.d.) Unemployed adults between the ages of 18 and 50 will be limited to 3 months of food stamps in a 3 year period-unless their state applies for a waiver based on a lack of jobs. One of the biggest concerns of social welfare in the United States is doing the best we can do for families who need assistance meeting financial obligations when trying to obtain healthcare or an education. Over a period of time, it has become apparent that improvements needs to be made in order to reach the goals of welfare, welfare reform attempts to accomplish these improvements. Welfare in the United States will never fully meet every need of every low income or underprivileged individual or family. We as a people must seek out a better program for underprivileged families in America. Rebuilding the welfare system is something that should be on our number one “need to do list” this is something that affect us all as American citizens.
Dennis, T. (n.d.). The Young and Politically Reckless. Retrieved from http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/blog/polisocsp13/2013/03/19/we-should-measure-welfares-success-by-how-many-people-leave-welfare-not-by-how-many-are-added/ Franklin D. Roosevelt State of the Union Address of 1935. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/faculty/gz580/his101/su35fdr.html Ross, S. (n.d.). Welfare “Reform” Act of 1996″ Keeping Poor From Good Jobs. Retrieved from http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/04/27/welfare-%e2%80%9creform%e2%80%9d-act-of-1996-keeping-poor-from-good-jobs/