Issue Profile: The Welfare Reform Act

Feb 08, 2012

The third installment of our Member of the Week series continues with an issue profile as discussed by the Congressman. Yesterday, we presented Rep. Jim Jordan's answers to five questions, including one about what aspect of government he would reform. He brought up the fact that our government will spend $10 trillion over the next decade on programs that are supposed to help lower-income Americans. Unfortunately, as Heritage's Robert Rector has researched, these programs have done little to actually help reduce the number of people on welfare.

Since the "War on Poverty" began in 1964, the government has spent $16 trillion on welfare programs. And what have we gotten for all that money? More government dependence and more people on welfare.

We can't continue to create government dependence. In 1996, conservatives in Congress forced President Bill Clinton to accept welfare reforms which resulted in millions of families moving off of the welfare dole. And all that was reformed was one of the 77 federal programs which provide welfare. Imagine how many Americans would be lifted from poverty if all of these programs were reformed?

Even though the reforms worked so well, welfare spending has doubled since. This is why Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), along with Reps. Tim Scott (R-SC), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Dan Burton (R-IN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), have introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011 (H.R.1167.)

H.R.1167 will help those receiving food stamps to become independent and get off the government's dole, ensure that taxpayers see the true cost of national welfare spending, and return welfare spending to pre-recession levels once unemployment falls to 6.5%. It will also cap spending at these levels with a budget resolution.

In order to ensure that the food stamp program does not become a secondary source of income, work requirements will be extended to the program. These will include a supervised job search to make sure that recipients don't simply look for a job when they need to prove they're looking. It will also require recipients to become involved in community service, seek education and job training, and receive drug or alcohol treatment if they need it. Individuals receiving benefits will need to devote 60 hours a month to those activities, and if they claim a dependent (have children) they will need to devote 120 hours to ensure they are doing everything possible to do what's best for their child.

The bill will also empower the states to promote self-sufficiency by reallocating $300 million from current welfare spending and give that money to states that manage to successfully to reduce the poverty level in their populations. The program will reward states that actually help their people become independent, instead of continually giving more money to programs that don't work. It will encourage states to compete for welfare dollars by proving that they're serious about getting their constituents off of government dependence.

By reducing the number of Americans dependent on the government, we will make our country stronger. Federal assistance will no longer be a source of sustained income, as individuals will become empowered to care for themselves and their own families. No longer will the half of Americans who pay federal income taxes be supporting the half who don't, and our nation will be able to return to the values of self-reliance that built our society.

The 2012 Index of Dependence on Government: Dependence is Rising