2016 marks 20 years since Bill Clinton’s welfare reform.
1996. The year my second child was born.
It seems like just yesterday and yet 20 years have passed.
I found this wonderful video on the NY Times by Retro Report entitled Welfare and the Politics of Poverty.
In 1934, President Johnson signed into law a welfare reform to help destitute widows and children.
In 1996, Bill Clinton, co-signed the Republican belief that all poor people were entitled lazy scamming unwed mothers by putting time limits on benefits and requiring recipients to go to work.
A second portion of Clinton’s plan was to create jobs.
Republicans focus was more on punitive dimensions and states were given to power to decide how the reform was interpreted.
Here in Virginia, this translated to receiving benefits for 2 years, then 2 years off, and then 2 years receiving again and then nothing ever again.
A plan that sounded good on paper and worked..adequately…during time of economic prosperity in America.
What was not taken into consideration times of economic downturn.
2008 Great Recession changed the game and state’s started siphoning off TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) to other programs and job training and child care fell by the wayside.
They were spending less than 20% of the poverty money to end poverty.
And with no jobs, the demand for welfare shot up. Way up!!
The state’s response…make TANF tougher to get.
Yes, they increased the War on the POOR rather than addressing the issues of poverty.
Yet, they still attempted to claim that the program to move people off welfare as successful as they moved the people off the TANF rolls.
Whether they had a job or not…When speaking of Welfare, why does no one mention the corporations that have moved overseas and… Click To Tweet
20 years ago, 68% of poor families received cash assistance.
Today, it is 23%
In conservative state such as Texas, it is 5%. (As an aside, Texas is one of the most searched states on my Section 8 Public Housing Niche website.)
Today, 46 million people live in deep poverty with less than $10,000 income a year.
That is below half of the poverty line.
This has pushed a record enrollment in food stamps and disability claims as poor people, unable to find work, seek alternate solutions to feed and house their children.
The politician’s response.
Let’s attack those “entitlement” programs.
Even Bill Clinton regrets that he did not foresee that people would “believe one more time, that poor people are the problem in America”.
“It did far more good than harm but now, given the changed climate and the aftermath of the crash, the poorest welfare families, about 15% of the total are worse off and we should do something for them and all of us who supported it should admit that,” continues Clinton.
Also needed to be addressed is the issue that many of those who have left the rolls and become a member of the working people still living under the level of poverty.
That are one accident away, one family emergency away, one medical condition away from being back on the ever encroaching threat of moving from the working poor to welfare recipient.
And the sad thing is, if they need it, it just might not be there.