Background: In 1996 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which became popularly known as “welfare reform,” into law. The legislation transformed the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a program intended to provide temporary financial assistance to low-income families while encouraging work and self-sufficiency. Most significantly, the 1996 welfare reform included mandatory federal work requirements, stipulating that welfare recipients must be engaged in work or some type of work activity in order to receive TANF benefits.
As Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation have written:
“Mandatory federal work requirements for recipients were at the heart of the change, which led to significant decreases in the program’s rolls, increased work among former recipients, and historic reductions in child poverty.”
Problem: Despite the success of the 1996 welfare reform, 20 years later there’s still much to be done to ensure that the welfare system moves people towards work and self-sufficiency rather than towards government dependency. According to Rector and Sheffield’s paper Setting Priorities for Welfare Reform:
In response to the housing collapse and financial crisis of 2007-08, Congress rushed to pass the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act under the guise of “consumer protection.” But instead of addressing the root causes of the financial crisis, such as the government’s reckless efforts to expand housing affordability and implied guarantee to bail out large financial institutions, Dodd-Frank empowers the very regulatory establishment which created the environment that led to the financial crisis in the first place.
Heritage Foundation Financial Regulations expert Norbert Michel writes:
“The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is among the most inappropriately named laws ever enacted in the U.S. It neither reformed Wall Street nor protected consumers, and it imposed massive new regulations on banks far away from Wall Street.”
Conservative accountability goes beyond casting a vote. Building a society in which freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and the civil society flourish requires a sustained effort. That is why we have compiled a non-exhaustive list of upcoming townhalls, all of which provide excellent opportunities to discuss important issues with members of Congress.
As always, make sure to confirm the details with the Representative or Senator’s office.
Email Matthew.Lauer@heritageaction.com for any further details.
On July 12, 2016, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR) rushed to pass legislation bailing out the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)—the so-called Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 5714)—without a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) or a recorded vote. In the process, OGR released a rebuttal document in response to Heritage Action’s statement of opposition. The following are responses to those rebuttals.
Rebuttal #1: “There is a lot for Conservatives to like in this bill. H.R. 5714 treats the Postal Service more like a private sector business. The bill cuts Postal Service costs while also taking away the strongest anti-reform argument: that the agency is only struggling because of an ‘unfair’ retiree health care requirement.”
Response: There is a reason liberal Democrats and USPS support H.R. 5714. It rewards the Postal Service, and its constituencies, with their number one priority for years—relief from their current health care contributions in exchange for few reforms. In fact, it is the important reform principle established in 1971 that USPS should be treated more like a business—responsible for both its assets and liabilities—that is grounds for opposition to the bill. The bill shifts liabilities to taxpayers.
When setting up the Obamacare exchanges, three “risk mitigation” (read: bailout) provisions were written into the law to incentivize large health insurance companies to participate in the government takeover of our healthcare industry. The three bailouts are known as the risk corridors, reinsurance, and cost-sharing subsidies. Despite these cronyist “risk mitigations” for big business, Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster for the average citizen’s health plans and tax dollars. In fact, due to these bailout options, some of the worst fiscal consequences for the taxpayers are potentially yet to come.
As The Heritage Foundation explained last year, the reinsurance program funneled nearly $8 billion to Obamacare insurers in 2014, paid for “by a tax on everyone with non-Obamacare coverage.” Highlighting the problems with the reinsurance bailout provision, Chris Jacobs at National Review writes: