The Welfare problem Essay

This essay has a total of 2356 words and 9 pages.

The Welfare problem

The poor are everywhere it seems. They are on the street corner, in the local 7 Eleven,
and in the plaza. Sometimes I get sick of them and even angry with them when they pester
me for money. I ask myself, "Is the best way to deal with poor, to give them money from my
pocket?" It's obvious that other people have given them money from their pockets at
different times. If no one had ever given them money, then these people wouldn't be
standing here asking for money. The fact is, many poor people ask for money because they
know they can get money that way. For most of the last 70 years our government has
indirectly given the poor money from our pockets, through taxes and welfare. Not
surprisingly, people have continued to ask for money. For most of those 70 years welfare
fed the mentality that the best way to get money was to ask. I believe welfare as it was
first started, failed miserably and created millions of dependents in poverty instead of
independents above poverty. The welfare reform of 1996, I believe has helped the poor
escape from the trap of poverty and is a more beneficial way of dealing with the poor.

The idea of the United States government assisting the poor financially, originated nearly
70 years ago (Modern Welfare Programs). The depression was in full flux and the American
people were demanding help from the government. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first
federal poverty assistance act called Aid to Dependent Children Act in 1935 (Background:
Time for a new Approach). This laid the foundation of the current government entitlement
program now called welfare. World War II brought thousands of jobs to America and slowed
the growth of the entitlement program. A vast majority of people were employed either
directly by the government or through other war related jobs. After the war the economy
held strong for the next ten years (Modern Welfare Programs).

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy raised the current welfare payments and renamed the
program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Kennedy allowed states to require work
in order to receive welfare, but didn't require it. Kennedy also laid out the new goal for
welfare in America, it was to "end poverty, not just alleviate poverty" (Background: Time
for a new Approach). Kennedy said welfare should be "a hand up, not a hand out." Welfare
continued to change with President Lyndon B. Johnson. He declared a "war on poverty " in
1965 and welfare spending increased dramatically over the next 30 years (Background: Time
for a new Approach). In 1965, about 14 percent of Americans were living below the poverty
line. After 30 years and nearly 6 trillion dollars in spending the poverty rate was
actually up to 15.2 percent in 1996.

According to, in 1994, Republicans were given control of both Houses of Congress.
One of the first priorities on their agenda was to address the growth of the welfare
entitlement program. Early in their term President Clinton proposed idea for reforming
welfare. He proposed setting a two-year time limit for welfare recipients. He also wanted
to spend another 9.3 billion in Federal money to create more Federal jobs welfare
recipients could apply for. The Republicans resisted the idea of expanding the Federal
Government's role in welfare and in 1996 made a counter proposal, which was eventually
passed through Congress and vetoed twice by President Clinton. In the summer of 1996
Congress again passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act,
and in July President Clinton agreed to sign it into Law. This law is what we now call
Welfare Reform (Background: Time for a new Approach).

According to Health and Human Services own Website, The cornerstone of Welfare Reform was
the giving of TANF Block Grants to individual states to help their poor. The current law
allows states to use this money in any manner "reasonably calculated to accomplish the
purposes of TANF" (Major Provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act of 1996). The goals of TANF are to,

"To provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own
homes; to reduce dependency by promoting job preparation, work and marriage; to prevent
out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent
families" (Major Provisions of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act of 1996).

States were required to submit a plan to the Federal Government outlining how they were
going to help welfare applicants and recipients find work. The Government had to approve
of the plan for states to receive money. In order to keep receiving the full amount of
money from the Federal Government, states now are required to maintain a minimum number of
work participation rates. In 2002, states were required to have 50% of single parent homes
on welfare working at least 30 hours a week and 90% of two parents homes working at least
35 hours a week. To reach that goal states are allowed to spend the money they have in
anyway they want to. States are now free from Federal bureaucracy and able to use whatever
means necessary to help people get work (Major Provisions of the Personal Responsibility
and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996).

States have exercised their broad powers in order meet the Federal requirements. Now, most
states have transformed welfare offices into job placement centers for the poor. They have
used all the resources available to help the poor find jobs, in order to meet the
requirements set by the Federal Government. Asa result of Federal requirements welfare
reform has been successful in causing a decline in the number of people dependent on
welfare to survive, but has it helped people move above the poverty line? Are there less
poor people now than there were before Welfare Reform?

Ron Haskins states in an article entitled "Welfare Reform is Working" in the book, Taking
Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Social Issues, 11TH Edition, that he believes that
welfare Reform has helped move the poor off government entitlement and out of poverty. He
went across the country to see if states were really helping people escape poverty by
helping welfare applicants find jobs. Ron started in Long Beach California; here he
visited a former welfare office. The office had been turned into a job placement center
for welfare applicants. Ron met with some business owners who told of how they had been
able to hire welfare applicants. As he toured California Ron heard how over a 10-month
period, Los Angeles's welfare roles dropped over 100,000. This was the first drop in
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