Aug. 22 marks the 20th anniversary of President Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans’ bipartisan Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). This landmark welfare reform law substantially changed the U.S. welfare system for the first time in more than six decades. PRWORA instituted work requirements, imposed time limits, and allowed states to craft their own welfare programs through the newly formed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
Six days ago, in Poland, the President reacted to two fatal shootings of young black men by police, one in Louisiana and another in Minnesota, by saying, “these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents.” The message was clear enough. Two days later, an African American took revenge on a police force in Texas that, the way he saw things, was part of a system of law enforcement that was murdering young black men.
There have been numerous stories, rumors, and outright falsehoods reported in the media and by detractors regarding state Sen. Arthur Orr’s (R-Decatur) recently proposed welfare reform bill.
Mississippi took a step in the right direction when, at the beginning of the month, the Mississippi Department of Human Services announced it would implement work requirements for single people between the ages of 18 and 49 who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. Although this is a positive development, there is still much that could be done to better help the State of Mississippi move people in poverty from government dependency to self-sufficiency.
Arguably the single most successful endeavor undertaken by Congress in the past 20 years was its effort to enact significant reform of the U.S. welfare system. Even greater success is possible, with simple steps that states can take to help millions of impoverished people transition from government dependency to the freedom and self-sufficiency provided by a high-quality job.
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in as Heartland Policy Advisor Gary MacDougal goes on NPR to discuss the 2015 welfare reform report card and Missouri’s failing grade. MacDougal is also joined by Jeanette Mott Oxford, a former Missouri State Representative and Executive Director of Empower Missouri.
On March 23, Policy Advisor Gary MacDougal was a guest on NPR’s The Jefferson Exchange, broadcasted out of Southern Oregon University. MacDougal was on to discuss the 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card and Oregon’s ‘F’ grade.
Welfare policies intended to get people back on their feet are actually keeping them on the dole by reducing economic incentives to seek better-paying jobs or work more hours. Instead of the tired policy of being “generous” with other people’s money, pro-growth policies are the key to getting people back to work.
No one in Washington is taking the lead in addressing poverty and welfare reform like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Almost alone, he has noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty.
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