Dissolving Welfare Reform Via Policy Directive

With the media’s attention turned elsewhere this past week, a major policy revision by the Obama Administration.

Welfare reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Heritage Foundation played a pivotal role in building bipartisan consensus for the reform and providing many of the recommendations that became part of the law. The whole point was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid.

This reform was very successful. TANF became the only welfare program (out of more than 70) that promoted greater self-reliance. It moved 2.8 million families off the welfare rolls and into jobs so that they were providing for themselves. Child poverty fell, and single-parent employment rose. Recipients were required to perform at least 20–30 hours per week of work or job preparation activities in exchange for the cash benefit.

Now, Obama’s HHS is claiming that it can waive those work requirements that are at the heart of the law, and without Congress’s consent.

When it established TANF, Congress deliberately exempted or shielded nearly all of the TANF program from waiver authority. They explicitly did not want the law to be rewritten at the whim of HHS bureaucrats. In a December 2001, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service clarified that there was no authority to override work and other major requirements: “Effectively, there are no TANF waivers,” it reported.

But that did not stop the Obama Administration, which has been increasing welfare spending at an alarming rate already. President Obama has added millions to the welfare rolls, and his Administration has come under fire lately for its efforts to expand and add more Americans to the food stamp program.

Source: Morning Bell: Obama’s Imperial Presidency Dissolves Welfare Reform.

The end result? Likely increasing dependency on government with no way to pay for the increased government spending that will result.  At the expense of economic growth.

I Got Foodstamps and So Can You

Proof from a college student that the growing entitlement society is a serious problem.

My recent excursion into the welfare system has left me scratching my head.  Prior to writing and researching this project, my only impression of food stamps and similar welfare programs was that the credit only worked for certain items at certain stores and that an individual had to be in a particularly dire financial situation to receive such aid.  I was wrong.

An EBT card works and looks like a debit card, but instead of the user withdrawing money from a checking account, the government prepays an amount of money it deems necessary for the user’s food expenditures.  Several of my classmates recently implemented the use of an EBT card for their groceries, and their involvement in the program immediately piqued my interest.  To be honest, my first thought was: “I wonder if I qualify for free grocery money.”  My immediate second thought was: “How do they qualify for free grocery money?”  These students come from similar financial backgrounds to mine, live in similar accomodations, and take the same amount of college credit hours that I do. Thus, my investigation began with a food stamp application, an interview request, and a trip to a place no one really wants to visit: the Department of Human Services.

After going through the process and having only three paycheck stubs from a current job instead of the required four, Sydney thought her experiment was over.  She was mistaken.

Approximately one month after I had received the first letter, another letter found its way to my mailbox from the Department of Human Services.  I opened it up to find an EBT card with my name on it, instructions on how to activate and use the card, and the amount I could access on it per month — 200 dollars.  Nothing followed-up my interview, other than the evidently pointless letter I received during the previous month.   No one ever asked for a copy of my birth certificate or Social Security card, nor for my student identification card.  I answered all of their questions truthfully, but how were they to know that I was who I said I was?  Is it really this simple to obtain welfare benefits here in the United States?

Is this the way welfare was intended to be? As pointed out:

Welfare in America was intended to provide a temporary means of survival for those at rock bottom.  However, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people using food stamps over the past 40 years, and it would be hard to argue that they are all that destitute.  Over that same time period, an estimated $753 million per year has been spent fraudulently by welfare recipients.  Moreover, the government’s own accounting has cost taxpayers billions of dollars per year as food stamp programs routinely overpay their recipients; last year, that figure alone totaled $2.5 billion.

As part of her experiment, Sydney discovered this:

It’s not hard to qualify for the program as a student and some universities even publicize food stamps to their students. For example, in Oregon, if you fall into any of the following categories, you automatically qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) program: full-time student who works at least 20 hours per week, full-time single student who is caring for children younger than the age of 12, full-time married student who is caring for children younger than the age of 6, or at least a half-time student who is actively working any hours in a work-study program (institutional or federal) can receive a certain amount of money per month from the government.

Should it really be this easy to get government assistance?  Is it good for the country when freedom is replaced by dependency on the government?

But when government starts to act as the hand that feeds its people and makes personal decisions for them, citizens lose their identities and freedoms.  Not only is the innovative, hardworking, passionate American lost because the government promotes the idea that individuals can’t do it themselves, but the individuals come to expect the handouts and riot when they are revoked.

Given my own personal experience, it is clear that food stamps are too easy to obtain, student or not.  I realize that the food stamp program is different in all states, and some are more thorough with background checks than others, but much greater reform is needed.  It concerns me that 15% of the population, or 46 million people, rely on others’ tax dollars to pay for their food.  That doesn’t sound like freedom to me.

The burning question should be why doesn’t the mainstream media do this type of investigative reporting?

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My Time at Walmart

A very interesting article from a college student regarding the welfare system.

During the 2010 and 2011 summers, I was a cashier at Wal-Mart #1788 in Scarborough, Maine. I spent hours upon hours toiling away at a register, scanning, bagging, and dealing with questionable clientele. These were all expected parts of the job, and I was okay with it. What I didn’t expect to be part of my job at Wal-Mart was to witness massive amounts of welfare fraud and abuse.

I understand that sometimes, people are destitute. They need help, and they accept help from the state in order to feed their families. This is fine. It happens. I’m not against temporary aid helping those who truly need it. What I saw at Wal-Mart, however, was not temporary aid. I witnessed generations of families all relying on the state to buy food and other items.  I literally witnessed small children asking their mothers if they could borrow their EBT cards. I once had a man show me his welfare card for an ID to buy alcohol. The man was from Massachusetts. Governor Michael Dukakis’ signature was on his welfare card. Dukakis’ last gubernatorial term ended in January of 1991. I was born in June of 1991. The man had been on welfare my entire life. That’s not how welfare was intended, but sadly, it is what it has become.

Other things witnessed while working as a cashier included:

a) People ignoring me on their iPhones while the state paid for their food. (For those of you keeping score at home, an iPhone is at least $200, and requires a data package of at least $25 a month. If a person can spend $25+ a month so they can watch YouTube 24/7, I don’t see why they can’t spend that money on food.)

b) People using TANF (EBT Cash) money to buy such necessities such as earrings, kitkat bars, beer, WWE figurines, and, my personal favorite, a slip n’ slide. TANF money does not have restrictions like food stamps on what can be bought with it.

c) Extravagant purchases made with food stamps; including, but not limited to: steaks, lobsters, and giant birthday cakes.

d) A man who ran a hotdog stand on the pier in Portland, Maine used to come through my line. He would always discuss his hotdog stand and encourage me to “come visit him for lunch some day.” What would he buy? Hotdogs, buns, mustard, ketchup, etc. How would he pay for it? Food stamps. Either that man really likes hotdogs, or the state is paying for his business. Not okay.

Go to the source and read the rest.  Do you agree or disagree with her assessment.

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Welfare can & must be reformed

A five-point plan that reforms welfare while protecting the vulnerable.

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