A Need for Sufficient Reforms to Welfare Programs

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Kristina Rasmussen makes an important point in the Washington Examiner:

Despite near-historical low unemployment rates and employers desperate to fill open jobs across the country, welfare enrollment is soaring. And overwhelmingly, the newest enrollees aren’t those the system was intended to serve — the elderly and those with disabilities, among others. Instead, they’re mainly able-bodied adults.

That’s an indication that the programs are no longer truly designed for the goal for which they were originally promoted.  If they ever truly were, they aren’t programs to help disadvantaged people so much as jobs to give to government, making dependent clients of increasingly broad cross-sections of the population.

That’s why I’d suggest that Rasmussen is a bit too optimistic about the chance for reforms to work.  On both the client side and the provider side, too much incentive exists to undermine or route around reforms.  Recall when President Obama took office and undermined work requirements.

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Unless we fundamentally change incentives and the culture, reforming welfare will be a constant labor of piling up sandbags against relentless tide.  Things like work requirements are worth doing, because they will help in the effort, but they aren’t sufficient.



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