Work for Welfare.

20111031-FNS-LSC-0291 (Photo credit: USDAgov)

Work for Welfare. Recently Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) highlighted the critical need to reform the nation’s massive welfare system.

It is time to return to the moral principles of the 1996 welfare reform. That reform was guided by the principle that, over time, unmonitored welfare programs were damaging not merely to the Treasury but to the recipient.


Currently of the 80 welfare and assistance programs funded by your tax dollars, only two of the programs have a work requirement. The original Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) had a positive result on welfare reform during the mid 1990’s. TANF caseloads were reduced by 50% and employment rates and earnings among single mothers showed increases.

In July of 2012 the Obama administration via the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), sought to according to their edict:

Lower the already lenient work participation rates in TANF by exempting substantial and loosely defined groups of recipients from the work rates;

Broaden the definition of “work activities”;

Replace the requirement that recipients engage in work activities for 20–30 hours per week with looser standards, perhaps as little as one hour per week; and

Replace the TANF work participation requirements entirely with alternative standards based on “employment exits.”

The proposed Obama Administration changes sought to make an end run around congressional oversight

Back in mid 2012 the President and his allies were in full spin mode, attempting to debunk the claims that they did not gut the welfare work requirements. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that the abolishment of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) work requirements will actually increase work.

HHS claimed that states that receive a waiver must, “commit that their proposals will move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work compared to the state’s prior performance.” History shows however that with the normal turnover rate in welfare programs, the easiest way to increase the number of people moving from “welfare to work” is to increase the pool of those who are entering welfare in the first place.

An example of the wavier’s sought by states is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada.

TANF Performance Measures and Possible Waiver Opportunities …
Exempt the hardest-to-employ population for a period of time (i.e. six months) to allow time for their barriers to be addressed and their household circumstances stabilized; …

It’s important to note that the time period that Nevada puts forth is a recommendation and not an end time for those in question. Nevada also calls, lack of child care, transportation, drug addiction, special needs such as clothing and tools, and lack of “job seeking/retention skills,” employment barriers. Nevada also cites obesity as a barrier.

The proposed HHS directive guides more welfare recipients to get their only exercise by their monthly walk to the mail box for their welfare check. Bravo to Senator Sessions for once again brining this issue front and center.

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