People usually use the Welfare Reform Law of 1996 as an example of success….but as the chart above shows – all it did was stop helping the people who needed assistance. The Republican philosophy for welfare reform is based around “block grants” so that no matter what is going on….how bad the economy is or the demand is – the federal government is going to provide X amount of dollars….period. States don’t want to cover the costs for helping the poor either; so essentially – people stop getting help.
This is significant because this methodology is what the Republicans are using for their “reforms” to Medicare and Medicaid; Republicans are offering “block grants” to states to use the money however they like. They will do this with a slowly reduced budget in real $ (it increases but not with the rate of inflation) and over the long haul – the government spends less on Medicare and Medicaid. Except – as welfare reform shows….someone can knock on your door asking for help and you can shut the door on their face but that doesn’t make you successful at helping the poor. It just means you have no conscience.
Ezra Klein writes:
Romney’s proposal is almost identical. “Welfare reform showed us how well a state-led approach can work,” he said in Detroit. “Let’s extend that conservative, small-government philosophy across the entire social safety net.” In addition to Medicaid and food stamps, he also mentions “housing subsidies and job training.”
What we tend to think of as “welfare reform” includes a few distinct components. One is turning the funds for the program over to the states, called “block granting.” Another is adding requirements that beneficiaries look for work.
Romney and Ryan’s plans focus on block granting. But you can’t go to the Congressional Budget Office, say you’re going to ask states to spend money on your behalf, and walk out with a prize for deficit reduction. So in the Romney and Ryan proposals, the grants to states would grow much more slowly than the programs’ projected costs. Medicaid, for instance, would see its budget increase at the rate of inflation, not at the rate of health-care costs. The question is whether these programs can spend much less without hurting the people who depend on them.
The NY Times writes about the impact of welfare reform:
Faced with flat federal financing and rising need, Arizona is one of 16 states that have cut their welfare caseloads further since the start of the recession — in its case, by half. Even as it turned away the needy, Arizona spent most of its federal welfare dollars on other programs, using permissive rules to plug state budget gaps.
The poor people who were dropped from cash assistance here, mostly single mothers, talk with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners — all with children in tow.
Like us on Facebook?