On Tuesday, Stephen Moore posted an article at Townhall about the current employment situation in America.
The article notes:
A policy question these days that has befuddled federal lawmakers is why so many millions of people have not returned to the workplace in the post-COVID-19 era. The labor force participation rate among employable adults is near a record low today. There are at least 2 million to 4 million employable adults who could and should be working but aren’t.
Very few people with even minimal skills can credibly say they can’t find a job. Employers report some 10 million job openings. Small business owners say their biggest problem is finding competent workers. There are many explanations for why so many people aren’t working — fear of COVID-19, the skills mismatch, more people taking early retirement, and so on. But a major factor is that the federal government is back to doing what it did in the 1970s and 1980s. The welfare state today is paying people not to work — even a single hour.
That problem went away in the 1990s after many states, such as Wisconsin and Michigan, began reforming their welfare systems with work requirements. Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and the Republican Congress in 1996 passed a historic bipartisan welfare reform bill that President Bill Clinton signed into law.
The article reports on the results of the passage of that law:
Few laws in the last half-century have had such stunning success. Here is a quick summary of the impact, as reported by Brookings Institution welfare expert Ron Haskins:
No. 1: Caseloads declined by 60%, and the number of welfare recipients fell to its lowest level since 1969.
No. 2: Between 60% and 70% of those leaving welfare got a job.
No. 3: The child poverty rate fell every year between 1994 and 2000 because parents were working.
No. 4: The federal government saved more than $50 billion (almost $100 billion in today’s dollars).
During the Covid pandemic, the work requirements were removed.
The article concludes:
America is a rich nation, and we should absolutely have a safety net so that those who fall on tough times, lose a job or become disabled — and that happens to almost all of us at some point in our lives — do not go hungry or homeless or suffer from deprivation.
But welfare is supposed to be temporary and a hand-up, not a handout. The goal of welfare was to end poverty, not perpetuate it.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO) said that restoring work for welfare requirements is “a top priority” of his panel. It should be a top priority for our country. Let’s make work, not welfare, pay.
Let’s put the work requirement back into welfare.