Welfare Reform: Missing in the Debt Debate

Things are heating up in Washington.  Debt talks continue and the Senate will remain in session every day until the issue is resolved.  Later today, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) will release a $9 trillion deficit reduction package.  The package – likely riddled with things good and bad – may serve to jump start a broader conversation on government spending and reform.

Today, on Townhall.com, Heritage Action’s CEO Michael A. Needham notes that welfare reform has been missing from the debt discussions. 

Although the historic welfare reforms of 1996 succeeded in moving people from welfare to work, it most certainly did not “end welfare as we know. it” Amazingly, these reforms – which liberals stridently opposed – only restructured one of the more than 70 federal means-tested welfare programs run by our federal government. 

That’s right, there are more than 70 separate welfare programs scattered across 13 government agencies. The Heritage Foundation ran the numbers and found these programs cost taxpayers nearly $900 billion per year. Even in this debate, that is some serious spending. 

And, of course, Washington’s problem is spending. Instead of raising revenue through gimmicky fees, higher tax rates and targeted tax hikes, lawmakers should focus on growing our economy and job creation. Reforming the entire welfare system by helping to move people from welfare to work is one way to do that.

Even though much-needed welfare reform may not find its way into any debt deal, some conservatives in Congress are still paying attention.  Congressmen Jim Jordan (R-OH), Tim Scott (R–SC), and Scott Garrett (R–NJ) have introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011, H.R.1167. The bill expands on the success of TANF by applying the same work-oriented policy to the other federal welfare programs. A growing coalition of Senate Republicans are preparing to introduce companion legislation.


A conservatives work is never done!

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