America‘s welfare programs have lost their way. They have become a bureaucracy that leaves people in poverty instead of helping them achieve success. There is no incentive for either the recipient of welfare or the welfare administrator to help the recipient end their dependency on the government. The welfare recipient is supported by a check from the government, the welfare administrator is supported in her job by the necessity of overseeing the distribution of that check. That is a simplification, but essentially the recipient and the administrator are mutually dependent upon each other. Neither has an incentive to change the system. However, because welfare is one of the budget busters in federal spending, the system needs to change.
On Tuesday, The Daily Signal posted an article offering a proven solution to helping people escape government dependency.
The article reports:
Most Americans believe able-bodied adults receiving welfare should be required to at least seriously look for work.
A new piece of legislation in the House promises to advance that majority view in federal law.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., recently introduced the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996), which would provide a much-needed reform to the food stamp program (SNAP). The bill would strengthen work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependent children.
H.R. 2996 would establish the principle that welfare assistance should not be a one-way handout. Assistance should definitely be given to those in need, but recipients should be required in exchange to take steps to support themselves.
The article reminds us that SNAP already has work requirements for adults without dependent children, but there is a way for counties to obtain waivers to opt out of the work requirement. In this bill, those waivers would be eliminated.
The article cites what happened in Maine when work requirements were added to welfare programs:
For example, in July 2014, Maine announced that it would no longer grant waivers from the work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependent children.
In order to receive benefits, they would thus have to work, participate in a work program for 20 hours per week, or do community service for about six hours per week.
It is important to note that this policy did not arbitrarily cut food stamp recipients from the program rolls. Able-bodied adults without dependent children in Maine were removed from the rolls only if they refused to participate in modest activities.
In fact, most of these individuals in Maine chose to leave the program rather than participate in training or community service, despite the strong outreach efforts of government caseworkers. This indicates that these individuals had other means of supporting themselves.
As a result of the new policy, the Maine caseload for able-bodied adults without dependent children dropped 80 percent in just a few months, falling from 13,332 in December 2014 to 2,678 recipients in March 2015.
The article states:
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 establishes a federal work requirement for this same category of individuals, similar to the one established in Maine.
If enacted, this policy would save taxpayers around $90 billion over the next 10 years, or roughly 13 percent of the program’s 2018-2027 projected spending.
No one wants to deny help to those who need it, but we have reached the point where there are two many Americans riding in the wagon and too few Americans pulling it. A work requirement is one way to slash the SNAP program by 13 percent and still provide help to those people who need it.