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The Changing Face of Welfare: a Comprehensive Research Study

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The Changing Face of Welfare 1

The Changing Face of Welfare: A Comprehensive Research Study
Bridgett Miller
SOC 320 Public Policy & Social Services
Instructor Jodie Lawston
December 21, 2013

The Changing Face of Welfare 2
Welfare was first established as a Federal program during the Great Depression. In 1935, Congress enacted Aide to Dependent Children (ADC), a relatively modest program whose primary focuses was on widows, orphans, divorced or deserted mothers and their children. By 1937, ADC covered only about 7000,000 people and at least two-thirds of eligible people with children were not covered (Almanac of Policy Issues, 2001). The program grew slowly but steadily over the next two decades, providing assistance to about 3 million people by 1960. In the 1960’s and 1970’s ADC changed to Aide to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and by 1992 with the election of Bill Clinton and his promise to “end welfare as we know it. With the election of a Republic Congress in 1994, Congress was determined to change the existing welfare system and in that same year President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWORA) as welfare reached an all-time peak of 14.2 million recipients, 5 million families and 9.6 million children (Almanac of Policy Issue, 2001). The new act ended welfare entitlement and replaced it with a new block grant providing $16.5 billion per year to states to assist the needy (Almanac of Policy Issue, 2001). This new program was called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and would remain in effect until 2012 when the face of welfare would change again under the leadership of President Obama. This paper will provide an analysis of the social welfare policy, conflicting public and political opinions and the impact of current policy solutions and the future impact of welfare on American Society.
Social welfare programs either transfer income or provide services to individuals to improve the quality of their lives. The vast majority of social welfare spending is aimed specifically at those in poverty, however, nor is it the product if state policy choices (Office of
The Changing Face of Welfare 3
Management and Budget, 2011:229). For context, the largest national programs are Social Security, Medicare Programs and public K-12 education, the largest social welfare program primarily funded by state and local government (U. S. Census Bureau, 2011). These social expenditures are not what is commonly known as welfare: Welfare refers to programs that provide public assistance, food, energy, housing, job training and education among other services like Medicaid only to the poor. The paradoxes of American poverty are not new. What is new is the intensity if public policy attention directed at American’s poor population since the signing if one of the biggest reforms to the American welfare system, the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). This Act basically ended entitlement welfare. Where any person eligible for benefits could obtain them and the government was obligated to provide the benefits necessary to fill all claims. With PRWORA, one of the major targets of reform was the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program which provided cash payment to very low-income families with children. The legislation sought to end AFDC and other government assistance by promoting self-sufficiency and personal responsibilities through “Work First” programs (Litchter, D & Crowley, M, 2002).
PRWORA sets strict limits on cash assistance, imposed work requirements and encouraged marriage and two-parent families as a context for having and raising children. Key provisions of PRWORA establishes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF replaces former entitlement programs such as AFDC, with federal block grants, dissolves responsibility for welfare programs from federal to state government; and uses time limits to move people from welfare to work while it sets a five-year limit for TANF and bars people convicted of drug-related crimes from TANF for life. Other aspects of PRWORA are that it tightens eligibility
The Changing Face of Welfare 4 standards for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and requires states to enforce strong child support payments from absent fathers and denies illegal aliens benefits except emergency services. Tightens national standards for food stamps and other benefits (Litchter, & Crowley). With the 2000 election of George Bush W, President Bush tried to push the “faith-based initiative” that would have given religious organizations billions of federal tax dollars to run a broad array of government services including welfare-to-work programs. President Bush did not win over bipartisan mix of congressional conservatives and liberalism who teamed up to stop his faith based initiative (Wickham, D. 2002).
In 2002, Presidents Bush’s new plan was to rewrite the 1996 welfare reform act that was up for renewal, he wanted to toughen welfare reform largely by requiring states to increase both the percentages of their welfare recipients who must find jobs and the hours they must work. The highlights of the welfare reform proposal were that 70% of recipients must work 40 hours per week in a job or job preparation, $4.8 billion for child care, S300 million for encouraging marriage and legal immigrants would be eligible for food stamps after five years in the United States (Wickham, D. 2002). If enacted this federal mandate would impose a heavy burden on state governments, the work requirements would start “to make fundamental changes” to their current welfare-reform efforts. Many states said the president’s mandates would force them “to create work experience and community service slots” to meet the proposed work rules. This would mean, given the nation’s economic problems, states would have to manufacture thousands of “make-work jobs” to comply with the plan President Bush was pushing (Wickham, D. 2002). In May of 2002, The US House of Representatives passed the Welfare Reauthorization bill as a push to get the remaining five million people that were still on welfare off the benefits, So they
The Changing Face of Welfare 5 could become part of an expanding pool of cheap labor. Even Senator Hillary Clinton angered welfare rights advocates when she signed into a bill favored by conservative Democrats that accepted the 40-hour work requirement, but with a few more exemptions than the House bill, and would increase child care by $8 billion over five years (Sherman, P 2002).
The Welfare Reauthorization bill would transform the Food stamp programs into blocks grants for five states and allows the Bush administration to grant “superwaviers” to states, in effect abolishing federal guidelines while freeing the states to use funds in virtually any way they choose. Other measures contained in the bill continue the vindictive policy of denying benefits to immigrants and their families, maintain the five-year lifetime limit and include Bushes proposal for programs promoting marriage and abstinence as a means of ending childhood poverty. The Major component of the bill requires states to have a 70 percent of welfare recipients working 40 hours per week. The new bill makes no exceptions for parents with young children. Further restriction in what qualifies as job training and education have also been added. For instance, Vocational education will no longer count towards meeting the work requirement, further restricting welfare recipients to the most minimal dead-end jobs (Sherman, P. 2002). After over three years of short-term extensions on January 2006, Congress reauthorized the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant as part of the consolidated Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) (Lower-Basch, E. 2007). According to Congress, many members did not have the opportunity ti read the bill, let alone debate and amend it before they we required to vote on the bill. As a result, the welfare reauthorization that was passed into law was deeply flawed. Instead of rewarding states for their efforts to help welfare recipients achieve self-sufficiency, the new law acted as if the
The Changing Face of Welfare 6 past decade of welfare reform never existed. It increased effective work requirements. While providing a minimal increase in funding for child care. It removed state flexibility to individualize the work requirements to respond to participants real needs, and it failed to incorporate common-sense provisions to improve program operations that had been included in both House and Senate bills, which received bipartisan support (Lower-Basch, E. 2007). The implement of the Deficit Reduction Act (ADR) changes the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) by narrowing the definitions of the countable work activities, which restricts state flexibility to use work-related activates that have been shown in the past, to be effective in helping families enter employment and get better jobs. ACF’s inflexible regulatory structure puts states that comply with these laws at significant risk of failing to meet the federal participation rate requirements. The structure of the program creates strong incentives to cut welfare caseloads, and to sanction off the families with the greatest barriers to employment (Lower-Basch, E. 2007). This welfare policy would change faces again under President Obama and his healthcare reform and HHR Waivers for Welfare essentially gutting TANF since 2008.
In 2008, state and federal governments spent $610 billion on primarily entitlement programs, while spending on the state and local levels together over $400 billion on public welfare (U.S. Bureau of Census, 2011). Medical programs are the largest federal welfare program, consuming more than half of the nation’s welfare spending. Medicaid which provides medical to the poor cost state and government spending $250 million in 2009 (National Association of State Budget Officers, NASBO, 2010). Cash assistance programs comprise only a modest share of state welfare spending with the largest programs being TANF, SSI and General Assistance (GA). Although the TANF under the direction of President Clinton saw a reduction
The Changing Face of Welfare 7 of the number of people on public welfare by nearly half for years after welfare reform, it does not mean the level of poor has improved (Rector, R & Bradley, K., 2012).
With the current recession and the huge unemployment rate, President Obama decided to rollback welfare reform and issued a dramatic new directive stating that traditional work requirements will be waived or overridden by a legal device called a section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security Law (425 U.S.C. 1315). This section allows Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive compliance with specified parts of various laws. A provision of laws that can be overridden under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself. Yet the work provisions of the TANF program are contained in section 407entitled appropriately, “mandatory work requirements” (Rector, & Bradley, 2012). Critically, the work requirement of TANF as well as most other TANF requirements are not listed in section 1115; therefore it is a provision that cannot be waived (Rector, & Bradly, 2012). Had Congress wanted HHS to be able to waive the work requirements it would have been listed in section 1115. Yet Congress did not do that.
In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a new policy directive effectively gutting the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. The Obama administration ended the work requirement that began to push to end dependency of the poor on government assistance and impose accountability in the system. The Obama administration asserts that because the work requirements established in Section 407 are mentioned as an item that state governments must report about in section 402, all the work requirements can be waived. The Obama administration did not merely tweak the welfare reform law’s workfare architecture, not were the changes merely a temporary response to the recession. They constituted a permanent change in the very
The Changing Face of Welfare 8 character of the TANF program. HHS asserted the authority to waive compliance with every provision of Section 407, which means all work rules in the TANF law are now subject to the secretary’s impulse (Rector, R. & Marshall, J., 2013). The department stated that it has broadened the definition of work activities, replacing the requirement that recipients engage in work activities for 20 to 30 hours per week with looser standards, as little as one hour per week, and replaces TANF work participation requirements entirely with alternative standards that are based on employment exits. While promising to reduce verification procedures that monitor state welfare programs, allowing states to run pseudo work programs that exploit newly loosened and vague federal rules without public scrutiny (Rector, & Marshall, 2013).
While public support for TANF over the years has been tremendous, people want to work not get government handouts. There is much confusion over this new welfare reform. The Republicans say President Obama is trying to weaken work requirements in the law, a claim that is disputed by administration officials and Democrats Congress. Yet the House Republicans passed a bill in March that would prevent the Obama Administration from waiving work requirements in the landmark 1996 welfare reform law, the bill passes on a mostly party-line vote of 246-181 and Senate Democrats are expected to oppose the waiver provision. The House passed a similar provision last year, and it died in the Senate. Instead, the Senate has included funding for TANF in a larger bipartisan bill that would finance the federal government through September. Last summer, the Obama administration, announced it would be willing to grant states waivers for some of the law’s requirements but only if governors could show they could accomplish the same welfare to work goals using different methods. So far no state has applied

The Changing Face of Welfare 9 for a waiver. The White House stated that the governors were ‘deterred in part by inaccurate claims about what the policy involves (Ohlemacher, S. 2013).
Democrats claim that Republicans are distorting the goal of the waivers. The administration said the waiver program was a response to concerns from state officials that the law’s work requirements created bureaucratic hurdles to placing welfare recipients in jobs. Republicans contend that the Health and Human Services Department was acting illegally in offering the waivers, saying the welfare law bars the administration from waiving the work requirement. According to Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee “Some have said that this is a waste of time because no state has even asked for a waiver. Yet preserving work requirements in welfare is never a waste of time. It was a good bipartisan policy when President Bill Clinton signed it into law, and it is a good policy today” (Ohlemacher, S. 2013). Yet the governors of the states remain unclear what the policy involves then it is obvious that work on the welfare reform is unfinished business.
According to the Heritage Foundation There is simply no question that the administration’s lawless overturning of TANF’s work requirements must be undone. First and foremost, work requirements should be established throughout the welfare system. There is no reason why only TANF should have work requirement while other major welfare programs are treated like old-style entitlements. The food-stamp program and federal housing programs, for instance could easily be reformed along the same line by setting work as a condition of receiving benefits. Work fare is particularly needed in the food-stamp program, the second most costly means-tested aid program. Food-stamp spending has exploded in the past few years, from $19.8 billion in 2000 to $84.6 billion in 2011. Part of the growth was caused by the recession, but
The Changing Face of Welfare 10 there is no evidence that spending discipline will return as he economy recovers. Under President Obama’s most recent budget proposal, food-stamp spending will remain well above historic norms for the foreseeable future (Rector, & Marshall, 2013)
Second, the future growth of means-tested welfare spending should be limited. In Fiscal year 2011, the total federal and state spending on the roughly 80 means-tested federal welfare programs reached $927 Billion a 40% increase from the $657 billion in the fiscal year of 2007. Obama’s increase in federal means-tested welfare spent during his first two years in office was two and a half times greater than any previous increase in federal welfare spending in American history. Obama’s proposed budget, would have total annual means-tested welfare spending remain permanently at its present level of 6% of GDP over the next decade. Combined annual federal and state welfare spending will reach $1.56 trillion on 2022; overall, President Obama plans to spend $12.7 Trillion on means-tested welfare in the next ten years (Rector, & Marshall, 2013). Congress should establish a cap on future aggregated welfare expenditures. When the economy rebounds or by 2017 at the lasts, totals spending on all federal means-tested welfare programs should be returned to the pre-recession level if 2007 and adjusted for inflation. Thereafter, aggregate annual federal welfare spending should grow no faster than inflation. This spending cap was the centerpiece of the Welfare Reform Act of 2011, introduced by Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Senator Jim DeMint if South Carolina, this would save the taxpayers $2.7 trillion during its first decade (Rector, & Marshall, 2013).
Finally, welfare reformers must seek ways to strengthen marriages among lower-income Americans. The connection between unwed childbearing on one hand and poverty and welfare dependence on the other is dramatic. A child born and raised outside if marriage, is six times
The Changing Face of Welfare 11 more likely to experience poverty, than one who is born and raised by married parents in an intact family. To combat poverty and dependence, it is vital to strengthen marriage. One plausible proposal would be to reduce the penalties against marriage I the welfare system. Benefits are reduced as a family’s income rises a mother will receive far more welfare if she is single than if she has an employed husband un the home, For many low-income couples, marriage means a reduction in government assistance and an overall decline in the couple’s joint income. The welfare system should be overhauled to reduce such counterproductive incentives (Rector, & Marshall, 2013). While reformers have their work cut out for them, these steps would aid in the transition of people dependent on the government to a position of independence, prosperity and one of dignity. This paper has tried to provide an analysis of the social welfare policy, conflicting public and political opinions and the impact of current policy solutions and the future impact of welfare on American Society.

The Changing Face of Welfare 12
Almanac of Policy Issues: Welfare. Retrieved from
Kingsley, G. T. (2001). Understanding the housing assistance/welfare overlap. Journal of Housing and Community Development, 58(5), 12-14. Retrieved from
Litchter, D., & Crowley, M. (2002) Poverty in America: Beyond Welfare Reform. Population Bulletin: A Publication of the Population Reference Bureau Vol. 57. No. 2 pp. 1-30 Retrieved from
Lower-Basch, E. (2007). Congress Should Take Action to Restore Flexibility Lost in 2006. Welfare Reauthorization and HHS Regulation. Clasp: Center for Law and Social Policy. Retrieved from
National Association of State Budget Offices. State Expenditure Report 2009. (Washington, DC: NASBO). Retrieved From

The Changing Face of Welfare 13
Office of Family Assistance. N.D. “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Eight Annual Report to Congress.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved from http://www/
Office of Family Assistance. TANF-ACF-IM-2012-03 (Guidance concerning waiver and Expenditure authority under Section 1115). Retrieved from
Office of Management and Budget, 2011. Historical Tables: Budget of the U.S., Fiscal 2011. (Washington, DC.: Government Printing Office).
Opinion: The value of food stamps. (20103, Dec 03). University Wire. Retrieved from http://search.
Pierson, P. (1996). The New Politics of the Welfare State. World Politics 48(2) pp. 143-179 Retrieved from
Ohlemacher, S. (2013) House passes bill forbidding welfare waivers. The Big Story
Retrieved from
The Changing Face of Welfare 14
Rector, R. (2012). Obama’s End Run on Welfare Reform, Part One: Understanding Workfare The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from part-one
Rector, R., & Bradley, K. (2012). Obama Ends Welfare Reform As We Know It. The Corner. National Review Online. Retrieved from htpp://
Rector, R., & Marshall, J. (2013). The Unfinished Work of Welfare Reform. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from
Rosario, K. (2013). What Needs to Happen Next with Welfare Reform. The Forge. Retrieved from
Sherman, P. (2002). US Welfare Bill Attacks the Poor. World Socialist Web Site Retrieved from

The Changing Face of Welfare 15
Staines, R. (2009). Think-tanks calls for reform of benefits in favor of the poorest. Public Finance, , 8. Retrieved from
Tobin, J. (2012). Obama’s Stealth Welfare Reform Rollback. Commentary Magazine. Retrieved from rollback
U. S. Bureau of the Census. 2008 & 2011.State & Local Government Finances. Retrieved from
Wickham, D. (2012). Bush Undercuts Welfare Reform. USA TODAY: Opinion. Retrieved From…...

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