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Welfare Reform Package: Helping Individuals Help Themselves

1991 words - 8 pages

It is nearly impossible to support one particular stance on the political spectrum for societal issues across the board. I have always placed myself in the libertarian category on the political spectrum, in the sense that I believe the government should refrain from passing laws that impose on individual freedom and support privatization and the free market. When it comes to the welfare state, I don’t think that the key to a successful reform necessarily lies in the cutting back of government spending, but rather a redistribution of the budget. I recognize the need for government assistance but firmly believe that more emphasis needs to be put on providing opportunities for individuals ...view middle of the document...

One of the most important changes that developed from this reform package was the creation of “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TANF), the current food stamp program that ultimately replaced the AFDC. Through TANF the federal government gives grants to each state and in turn the state distributes the aid to the population in need while theoretically abiding by the restrictions and requirements placed on those receiving aid. This program requires that recipients will be eligible for no more than five years, out of their entire life, for cash assistance, and that work must be found within two years as a recipient.
According to the United States Welfare Data for 2010, the federal government spent nearly 60% of its budget on mandatory payments towards human resources, cash payments and in-kind benefit programs for individuals, yet government data on the levels of poverty, for the same year, display an increase in the population living under the poverty threshold. The way that the system currently functions, as discussed in class, penalizes people for finding work while receiving benefits, as those that find work ultimately make a similar amount of money, thus live in the same conditions, as when they were solely relying on government assistance. I propose that work requirements be scaled back to a one year time frame, during which a certain amount of job training would be required. If at the end of the one year period, the recipient has not found a job, they will be placed in a government labor job or the benefits will be discontinued. This system functions very similarly to that of the JOBS program. The JOBS program seems ideal, one of the only downsides being that it requires caseworkers for individuals, which from a practical standpoint would not be very efficient as there is a rather large population involved (Morgen, Acker & Weigt, 2010). These standards could be applied to unemployment insurance, foods stamps, and a multitude of other means- tested programs. As Mead points out, “in all of these programs [means-tested social programs], a benefit or service has been offered to those eligible, but no official notice is taken of whether recipients attempt to overcome their problems,” (Bane & Mead, 2003). There is a need to be more consistent in requirements and enforcement for these training programs, between the federal and state levels, and individuals need to be pushed to utilize such resources.
The opposing viewpoint, specifically individuals that tend to fall on the left side of the political spectrum, would be likely to argue that giving welfare recipients such limited options and enforcing stricter work requirements would be discouraging to individuals and may support the status quo; a population working labor jobs and hovering around the poverty threshold. I would counter these arguments by not only pointing out the fact that by being more forceful with work requirements and job training, people would be earning their...

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