The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

August 3, 2012

Marilyn Beasley, guest columnist: Obama's directive weakens successful welfare reform

JOPLIN, Mo. — On Aug. 22, 1996, Bill Clinton signed into law the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act,” a comprehensive bipartisan welfare reform plan that transitioned the welfare system into one that required individuals to work in exchange for time-limited assistance.

In other words, instead of just handing people money to do nothing, they were now required to participate in unsubsidized or subsidized employment, on-the-job training, work experience, community service, 12 months of vocational training, or provide child care services to individuals who were participating in community service. This bill was an effort to move people from welfare into the work force; to move people from being dependent on government (or the taxpayer) to being self-sufficient.

According to the Heritage Foundation, “prior to welfare reform, the AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) caseload had not declined significantly at any time since World War II. After welfare reform, the caseload promptly dropped by 50 percent. As the caseloads plummeted, employment and earnings experienced an unprecedented surge upward, and child poverty among affected minority groups fell dramatically.” This was one of the most successful domestic policy reforms in the 20th century.

On July 12, 2012, President Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services released an official policy directive that undermined the welfare reform law of 1996. The new policy uses an old bureaucratic device called a Section 1115 waiver to declare the actual work standards written in the law null and void.

In other words, this administration is sending a message to all welfare recipients that they no longer need to make the effort to find work. The government will be more than happy to send them a monthly check for doing nothing.

I’m not sure how many will remember the interview done on Fox News shortly after Obama was elected president. There was a long line of people waiting to get checks from the government, and a news reporter asked one of the individuals why she was waiting in line. Her response was, “I’m here to get some Obama money.” The reporter then asked her where he got the money, and her response was, “From his stash.”

Well, “his stash” comes from the honest, hardworking people of this country who go to work every day to support themselves and their families; people who pay taxes so people can get some “Obama money.” These hardworking people continue to see this president and his administration giving away money without the recipients of that money being held accountable.

Although this president would like people to believe that the welfare check they get or the food stamps they get from the government are free, someone has to pay for them, and that someone is every taxpayer in this country.

You see, nothing is free.

Marilyn Beasley lives in Joplin.

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