Welfare Essay, Research Paper
“No one likes the current welfare system.” As described in a report edited by Isabel V. Sawhill, an author of The Urban Institute, not many individuals were pleased with the welfare system preceding its reform in 1996. Governors complained that federal law was overly prescriptive, and were willing to take less federal money in return for more flexibility. The public believed welfare to be an “anti-work” and “anti-family” program. Welfare recipients found dealing with the system degrading and demoralizing; most would prefer to work. At this time, many believed that welfare benefits (including food stamps) were insufficient to move a family above the poverty line. It did not provide sufficient state flexibility, did not encourage work, did little to reduce poverty, especially among children, and was responsible for the breakdown of the family, especially for a “rising tide of out of wedlock births.”The following year, the Welfare Reform bills were passed. These bills would substantially thwart the current social conflicts on this subject. They would replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with block grants to the states with a fixed federal payment. They would also prohibit states from using federal money to provide assistance to families for more than five, and eliminate federal welfare payments to legal immigrants, reduce SSI benefits for children, and make a variety of changes in the Food Stamp Program. This reform program was designed to decrease dependency on government assistance and to shift more responsibility for social programs to states. Supporters of the program argue that the changes will improve administrative efficiency and increase work and earnings by welfare recipients. In general, the program would assist in saving public funds with a minimal change in material hardship and poverty. Critics argue that the changes in welfare spending are so large, that low-income families would be hurt and poverty increased, even if the changes motivate more welfare recipients to exchange dependency for employment. The debate is simple enough, but the argument on welfare?s benefits and drawbacks is not. On the pro side of the argument, in support of welfare reform, the program aids poverty-stricken families as well as the economy. Not only would the bill discourage and decrease dependency on the government, but would encourage “freeloaders” to work, thereby salvaging the public tax money. Welfare generally assists poor families survive in the current economy by providing a means for them to obtain food while they search for a job. These families receive foodstamps, to purchase food, and a reasonable amount of financial aid. On the contrary, welfare is currently a great government expense that is financed by the tax paying citizens of the country. Federal tax rates throughout the country are extremely high and welfare, along with Medicare and Medicaid, are main contributors. The purpose of welfare is to aid a person with monetary need in “getting by” until they can find a job to support themselves, but this seldom occurs. Some argue that there are plenty of poor families that get along without welfare and its benefits. Many poverty-stricken families have multiple jobs and work extremely hard to get by, while others just sit and collect a welfare check from the government. There exist a great number of people that abuse the welfare program. These individuals may enroll in welfare without the intention of ever getting a job. Others trade foodstamps for cash or drugs. These ideas, or facts, can be used as a valid argument for the dismantling, or at least minimizing, of the welfare program. Proponents of Welfare Reform believe that these issues would be dissolved with the proper execution of these bills. However, Critics argue that the reform and changes in welfare spending would in fact handicap poor families, and even increase poverty. The spending and money used in the program would be reduced by about $16 billion per year. As a result, about 2.6 million more persons would fall below the poverty line, including 1.1 million children. More than one-fifth of all families with children would see their incomes fall by about $1,300 per year, on average. Almost half of the families affected by the bill currently work, and 4 out of 5 families who would be affected currently have incomes below 150 percent of poverty.Personally, I agree with the supporters of welfare reform, and wish to preserve the program. However, I also understand the view of the critics of the program. The program, provides state flexibility and enforces strong work requirements for welfare recipients. At the same time it provides states fewer federal dollars and large reductions in other welfare programs. I believe that modifying the provisions that affect legal immigrants, and social security for children, as well as food stamp cuts, would be beneficial to both sides of the issue. Not only would individuals be encouraged to work, but those who are truly in financial need would be sufficiently supported.
The Urban Institute. 4 January 2000. *http://www.urban.org/welfare/overview.htm*
The Urban Institute- Potential effects of Congressional Welfare Reform. 4 January 2000. *http://www.urban.org/welfare/PEC72696.htm#intro*
Graph Taken From:
U.S. Census Bureau. 4 January 2000. *http://www.census.gov*