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Welfare Reform Essay

2512 words - 11 pages

Work Activation Programs to Reform Welfare
Tammy Wooten
ITT Technical Institute

Work Activation Programs to Reform Welfare
In August of 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) (Welfare Reform section, 2010). Before that, federal welfare was an open-ended entitlement that encouraged long-term dependency (See Chart 2). It neither reduced poverty nor helped the poor become self-sufficient. It did however, encourage out-of-wedlock births and weaken the work ethic. The pathologies it engendered were passed from generation to generation. This reform was a step in the right direction, however, much more ...view middle of the document...

Despite rapid economic growth and declining poverty levels in the
1950s, the number of ADC recipients continued to increase and by 1956 over 600,000 families were receiving this aid (Brief History section, 2010).
Over the years the name has been changed but the assistance has, for the most part, remained the same – substantially increasing – and in recent years has reached an amount just under $20 billion per year (Welfare Reform section, 2010). These programs not only propagate indigence but also foster dependency on the government for financial assistance and services ( Although reform has taken place, the federal government still runs a large range of programs that are expensive and damaging. The federal government should phase-out its role in TANF and related welfare programs and leave low-income assistance programs to state governments, or better yet, the private sector (Overview section, 2010).
President John F. Kennedy took office amidst rising concern about poverty in 1960. Beyond renaming ADC to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and expanding it to include two-parent families in which the father was unemployed, Kennedy actually took little action when it came to welfare reform. After his assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared that the federal government would wage war on poverty and his administration proposed a huge array of new subsidy programs for individuals and state and local governments. The expansion of government programs he introduced further expanded AFDC and by 1965, the number of Americans receiving benefits had risen to over seven times as many in only a decade to an amount of 4.3 million. After Johnson left office, Presidents Ford, Nixon and Carter all added new anti-poverty programs and between 1965 and 1975, spending for AFDC tripled. With strong views of shrinking the welfare state, President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. Unfortunately, welfare-related spending continued to grow during both of Reagan’s two terms. A broad national consensus had developed that traditional open-ended welfare had failed by the time President Bill Clinton took office in 1983. This led to a period of state-government experimentation with welfare, within the constraints that the federal government allowed them. It was those experimentations that eventually led to the much needed welfare reform law of 1996. Sadly, this reform was short-lived.
On July 12, 2013, the Obama Administration issued new bureaucratic rules that overturned the popular welfare reform. According to Robert Rector (2012), this was an illegal move, and it completely undone years of progress that helped millions of Americans. Having lost repeated legislative battles to abolish workfare (work for pay standards), liberals went backdoor by using an arcane bureaucratic device called a section 1315 waiver to declare the actual work standards written in the TANF law null and void. These new rules granted...

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