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Welfare Improvements? July 19, 2006

Posted by j-dub in National, Politics.
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USA Today had an interesting article related to the welfare system and how it’s progressed since it’s overhaul 10 years ago.

Click here to read the article yourself, or follow along for my review.

First, let me say that I found this article extremely interesting. I think I found it so fascinating because we always hear the stereotypical remarks about the welfare system and this article debunked some of the common myths I’ve heard about. Let me say that I had the following stereotypes about the people on welfare prior to reading this article; not trying to work just collecting free money, mostly non-caucasian, and they usually had 3 or more children.

Here is the current ethnic breakdown of those currently on welfare: 38% black, 33% white, and 24% Hispanic.

Well, that removes one of my preconceived notions already. Whites are only 5% behind blacks and way ahead of the hispanic numbers.

Back in 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act:

The law, modeled on state pilot programs begun in 1994 with federal approval, was intended to prod welfare mothers and fathers into the workplace with a series of carrots and sticks. Work, and you got help with child care, job training, transportation. Refuse, and you risked sanctions and being cut off by time limits.

This debunks the first myth I had about the work aspect of the welfare program. President Bush has also required more stringent guidelines on the work aspect of welfare.

The article states that the welfare caseloads have declined by nearly 58% since the overhaul in 1996. A huge victory, but there have been other setbacks along the way:

  • Most of the women who left welfare remain in low-paying, unskilled jobs.
  • More than half of those still on welfare aren’t looking for work, honing their skills or going to school. (which led to Bush’s more stringent guidelines.)
  • More than half of those eligible for welfare payments don’t get them — a sign, critics say, that the new system discourages people who need help from applying.
  • While welfare was trimmed, other parts of the nation’s social safety net were expanding. The number of people receiving Medicaid and food stamps has soared by 50% since 2000. Medicaid is now the nation’s largest entitlement program, with 53 million recipients; 25 million people get food stamps.

Here is a great chart listing the state by state breakdowns since the overhaul.

Overall, a great article and a good read. They also had some stories about some of the welfare families and how they’ve fared over the years.

Any thoughts or opinions on the welfare system?

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