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Senator Mike Lee Introduces Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act

“Successful welfare programs are those that make poverty more temporary, not more tolerable, and we need to move current policy in that direction,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% in a press release regarding the introduction of his bill, the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act.

Lee explains:

The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act corrects and strengthens current welfare programs by restoring work incentives for individuals and families, improving state administration of welfare programs, rewarding states that transition beneficiaries from welfare to work, and imposing greater transparency in means-tested welfare spending.

This legislation is based on sound research and on the realities we face today as a nation.  The government spends nearly $1 trillion annually on 80 federal means-tested programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and targeted social services for poor and low-income Americans.

While many on the left look at this and see good, humanitarian work happening on the part of the federal government, conservatives look at it and ask how we can solve the problems that create a need for such massive amounts of federal welfare spending in the first place.

Conservatives, as Lee stated so succinctly, want fewer people in poverty, not a greater number of people living in poverty a bit more comfortably.

Since the War on Poverty began, nearly $20 trillion of taxpayers’ money has been spent, but the problem of poverty remains nearly as high as it was in the mid-1960s.

The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall says:

If this war could be won with spending, it would have happened long ago. 

The current system facilitates and prolongs poverty.  Indeed, “public assistance too often has created long-term dependence while undermining work and eroding marriage — the primary lines of defense against poverty.”

That’s why policy should create incentives for people to get out of poverty and stay out of poverty.  Primary among these incentives is work requirements for able-bodied adult welfare recipients.

The left should join conservatives in acknowledging that their tactics — tactics that have engendered “‘behavioral poverty’ — a vicious cycle of unwed childbearing, social dysfunction, and welfare dependency in poor communities” — have failed poor and low-income Americans.

Tragically, the Obama Administration has only made backwards strides in this effort.  Think of President Obama’s decision to gut welfare work requirements that were so successful in helping Americans out of poverty.

Politicians have to ask themselves how best to help Americans rise into the middle class and stay there.  Sen. Lee and those joining in support of his bill have asked this question, and answered it correctly.

The bill has been cosponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 97%Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) 69%, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) 67%.

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