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FreedomWorks is proud to announce that our bill of the month for May 2018 is the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, H.R. 2832 and S. 1290, introduced by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in the House and by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Senate.
This legislation addresses the substantial problems with our welfare system. It builds off of the more successful aspects of the 1996 welfare reform bill as well as off of other welfare reforms implemented at the state level. It will give underprivileged Americans the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty, into work, and into a life of independence, not dependence.
America, as a whole, has spent trillions on means-tested welfare since President Lyndon Johnson initiated his “War on Poverty” in 1966. This effort has been a resounding failure. The percentage of Americans in official poverty has essentially plateaued since then. The raw number of people in poverty has steadily increased, and government spending on welfare programs has also risen. The approach of the last few decades has failed.
Part of that problem is because welfare has become a permanent way of life for many Americans instead of being a stepping stone to a better life. The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act would restore welfare programs to their original purpose: to be temporary. Rep. Jordan said of his bill:
“Welfare programs should serve as a temporary safety net, but for millions of Americans they have become a permanent way of life. Instead of giving impoverished families and individuals a helping hand, the current welfare system penalizes positive steps toward self-sufficiency. It’s time for this to change.”
The bill strengthens work requirements for all able-bodied, work-capable adults to 36 hours per month for those without dependents and to 72 hours for individuals or couples with dependents. This will ensure that recipients seek work and will that their need for the program in general will gradually reduce. As of now, work requirements are loosely enforced, if at all.That undermines the efficiency of the program.
Another persistent issue with federal implementation of welfare reform has been how state governments have manipulated block grants to divert funding to other projects and avoid accountability. This bill phases in a performance-based system that rewards states with twenty-five percent of the money they save and punishes those states that fail to reach established performance requirements.
The legislation also installs better accountability for the federal government. It now requires the federal government to report all means-tested welfare spending, and to reports estimates for the next ten years. This will ensure that taxpayers know how much of their money is going where, instead of the shady backroom deals in which no one knows where the money is going. It also phases in a cap on federal welfare spending that would get the government back to 2007 levels after three years.
The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, H.R. 2832 and S. 1290, is an important step towards greater government transparency. It will also save an estimated $2.5 trillion over the next ten years. It is this kind of fiscal responsibility that is desperately needed in Washington to get our reckless spending under control.