On March 14, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) introduced The JOBS for Success Act (H.R. 1753 and S.802). This legislation would reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and enact reforms to help people find meaningful employment. The reforms would assist low-income Americans in finding jobs by requiring states to develop personalized plans for employment and by making sure that federal and state funds are only spent on employment-related reasons.
Work is the essential ingredient in lifting Americans out of poverty and providing firm financial footing. Helping parents find a pathway to self-sustaining employment that provides for their families’ needs should be the goal of all federal welfare policy. Only when we move people from poverty to productive employment have we succeeded in our efforts. This is exactly what the JOBS for Success Act strives to accomplish. Senior Research Fellow Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation says:
This bill embodies the principle that able-bodied recipients should work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans agree with that principle. The bill builds upon the success of welfare reform enacted in 1996, which dramatically reduced welfare dependence and child poverty. Measured properly, the poverty rate of unmarried parents is less than half of what it was before welfare reform. This bill, with a few technical changes, will continue that progress. We will work closely with Congress on technical improvements to ensure the bill meets its goals.
History shows that welfare reform that strengthens work requirements lifts Americans out of poverty. In 1996, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 into law, replacing the unsuccessful Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC) with the TANF block grant program. According to Rector:
The reform legislation had three goals: 1) to reduce welfare dependence and increase employment; 2) to reduce child poverty; and 3) to reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing and strengthen marriage.
Within a few years after its implementation, the bill was successful in each of those areas. The number of people on welfare was cut in half, employment of low-income single parents skyrocketed, and poverty rates of children and black Americans dropped to all-time lows.
Sadly over the last few years many state governments have attempted to go around federal work requirements. By adding additional conservative reforms to the TANF program, The JOBS for Success Act protects and enhances work requirements by requiring states to develop personalized plans for employment and by making sure that federal and state funds are only spent on employment-related reasons. This will reduce welfare dependence and help Americans live more dignified lives.