Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welfare Reform 2

August 22, 1966

Republicans still trying to undermine the country


The Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC. Originally entitled Aid to Dependent Children (ADC). The name was changed in 1962) program was put into effect when President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law back in 1935. It provided financial assistance to children of single parents or whose families had low or no income. This was the basis for the entire system that is commonly called "welfare," and lasted until 1996, and cost about 24 billion dollars a year at the time it ended.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands operated a AFDC program. It enabled states to provide cash welfare payments for needy children who had been deprived of parental support or care because their father or mother was absent from the home, incapacitated, deceased, or unemployed. The states administered the program or supervised its administration, and defined "need," set their own benefit levels, established (within federal limitations) income and award limits. The states were reimbursed by the federal government. The states were required to provide aid to all persons who were in classes eligible under federal law and whose income and resources were within state-set limits.
This program undoubtedly helped millions of low income families, and especially the children of those families, who would have been destitute without it.
And like any large government program, (the Defense Department's procurement services as just one example, where billions mysteriously disappear on a regular and continued basis without anyone seeming to bat an eye) there were those who abused it.
President Reagan's "Welfare Queen," for instance. He once described her in 1976, at which time he claimed "She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000."
This was a work of fiction, as he never named an individual, and he was trying to get elected to the presidency. However, there have certainly been documented, and prosecuted, cases of definite fraud committed under the welfare program (one can only hope it were true for the DOD procurement program).
That's to be expected. But as did Reagan, opponents to the program have referred to this fiction time and again in their attempts to amend welfare, or end it all together (there have been many other criticisms as well throughout the programs history, some blatantly biased against the poor as a class, what some would call "class warfare."
During the 1960s through to the 80s, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, William Shockley, made the argument that AFDC and other programs like it, encouraged mothers to have more children and stay on welfare, especially among what was considered less productive members of society (particularly blacks, whom he considered to be genetically inferior to whites, which of course is inherently a racist point of view, and not backed up with any scientific evidence whatsoever). He purported that welfare was causing some kind of reverse evolution founded on the premises that: there is a correlation between financial success and intelligence; and that intelligence is hereditary.
Heredity factors almost certainly can be correlated to the level of intelligence individuals may or may not have, but intelligence is in no way connected to financial success. Not every smart person is wealthy, and their are arguably many, many people of lesser intelligence (George W. Bush, for instance) who gain positions of authority and financial wealth.
Many other arguments have been made that welfare causes dependence on welfare, and in many instances it may be true. But whether or not as a rule that argument has any merit, it was used as a basis to undermine AFDC, and set the conditions for its so-called reform by President Clinton in 1996.
On August 22, 1996, President Bill Clinton, after vowing to "end welfare as we know it," signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which ushered in the most sweeping changes in the welfare system since its inception in 1935.
In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, the Act was a sop to the Republicans in Congress, and a ploy to seem fiscally conservative at a time an embattled incumbent President was fighting to maintain the White House. What it basically did was place more restrictions and work requirements and time limits on those unfortunate individuals seeking or currently on welfare.
I'll be fair here and let Bill state his point of view in his 2006 New York Times essay: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/22/opinion/22clinton.html?emc=eta1
A lot of people don't see it as does our ex-President, and dispute the reasons for the numbers he sites in his piece.
"You have so many people who were pushed off welfare who didn't find work in the beginning, and today there are so many people who can't get welfare at all," said Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University law professor who resigned from a senior position in the Clinton administration to protest the President's decision to sign welfare reform into law. "As an anti-recessionary tool, welfare as we know it today is useless."
Edelman compares the paltry expansion of the nation's welfare rolls during the recession -- from about 3.9 million families in 2007 to about 4.4 million families in 2010 -- to what happened to the food stamp program. During the same time period, food stamp program participation rose from about 30 million to 44 million, reflecting real levels of economic need.
"What we've done is make things worse," Edelman said. "There are now people who cannot find work, and who can not get welfare."
Here's the entire Huffington Post article the above quote appeared in : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/welfare-reform-poverty_n_932490.html
Here's my take, Joyce's Take: Welfare does need to be reformed in the sense that the need for it decreases by the uplifting of the middle class and economy in general. A rising tide lifts all boats, the saying goes. This is the vision of the Democratic Party, to an extent. Corporate money still needs to be taken out of the equation by significant campaign finance reform. What has that got to do with welfare reform? Glad you asked.
Our Congress currently is as corrupt as a Mississippi Governor. Corporations, both domestic and foreign, own Congress, the judicial branch in the form of the Supreme Court, and to a large extent the executive brach as well. Why? Because they need corporate money to finance their reelection campaigns, and also, since the Supreme Court gave it's supreme gift to corporations in the form of the Citizens United decision, politicians are terrified of offending corporate interests fearing retribution in the amount of money spent against them in future elections.
The Republicans believe that their corporate masters have no interest in improving the overall economy, even though it has been proven in the past that overall economic prosperity occurs when the middle class has money to spend and inject into the economy. This benefits corporations, as well as everybody else.
And Republicans don't want to help the economy because that would help re-elect President Obama.
In a depressed economy more people apply for welfare at a time when Clinton's Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act lowers federal and state resources to supply that growing demand, as Professor Edelman pointed out above.
We need to improve the entire economy to get people off welfare permanently. To do that we need to get money out of politics and support public finance of our elections so politicians are able to work for America rather than General Electric, Goldman Sachs, and Boeing.
That's the real answer to true welfare reform. No one in Washington wants to talk about it, except Bernie Sanders and a couple of others, because it so easy to not face the truth, and keep on blaming poor people for the plight politicians got them into in the first place through lack of oversight of Wall Street pirates.
To sum up, true welfare reform requires embracing campaign reform, a Constitutional Amendment reversing the Citizens United decision, ending the Bush tax cuts and lessoning of income disparity, and ending corporate welfare.
We need to put people back to work. Permanent work at a true living wage, not the fake federal minimum wage currently set at $7.25 per hour (see the Living Wage Calculator here: http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/
You want welfare reform America? Real reform? It's going to be hard to do.
But what job worth doing isn't?

P.S. Herman Cain is now unemployed and should blame himself. He now spends his time at home being bitch-slapped by his wife.

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