Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Today, in large part because of welfare reform laws enacted in 1996, the safety net—the set of government efforts to come to the aid of the country’s citizens when they are down on their luck, much of which has existed since the Great Depression—is thin and getting thinner. The number of people receiving cash assistance, the traditional form of welfare, dropped to 3 million today from 13 million in 1995. Welfare reform had big goals of moving people to self-sufficiency by training them to work. But it did little to create job opportunities or the types of programs that help people stay in jobs once they get them. Instead, they’re on their own.

And this thinning goes beyond giving needy families cash support: On April 1, between 500,000 and one million childless adults will lose access to food stamps). This is the belated consequence of a rule that was part of the 1996 welfare reform, which stipulated that childless adults can only receive three months of food stamps if they aren’t employed at least 20 hours a week or in a training program. For years states received waivers for the rule, but in many states, governors have chosen not to ask for extensions for this year.

Source: Atlantic, 4/1/16, Safety Net Frays