ACTION TOWARD REFORM: President Trump’s Executive Order on Economic Mobility takes the first steps toward welfare reform in America.
- The order provides nine “Principles of Economic Mobility,” which will guide agencies that administer public assistance programs to effectively reform the welfare system by directing that they:
- improve employment outcomes and economic independence;
- promote marriage and family as a way of escaping poverty;
- address the challenges of hard-to-employ populations;
- provide more flexibility to States, while ensuring accountability for achieving outcomes;
- streamline services to more effectively use taxpayer resources;
- reserve benefits for those truly in need;
- consolidate duplicative programs;
- facilitate greater sharing of information between States and localities; and
- empower the private sector to find solutions to poverty.
- The order focuses on increasing opportunities for those in need by:
- strengthening current work requirements;
- empowering States, localities, tribal governments, and private-sector entities to serve individuals and families in need; and
- using taxpayer dollars for their intended purpose, which includes ensuring only eligible persons receive benefits.
- The order directs Federal agencies that administer public assistance programs to:
- review all regulations and guidance documents relating to work;
- ensure such regulations and documents are consistent with the principles for reform;
- send a report to the President on what they can do to get Americans back to work; and
- take steps to implement such recommendations.
WELFARE ENROLLMENT FOR ABLE-BODIED ADULTS IS AT RECORD HIGHS: Welfare enrollment is at a record high for able-bodied adults in America, despite near-record low unemployment in most places.
Under President Trump, unemployment has hit and remained at near-record lows, and businesses are facing labor shortages.
The United States unemployment rate has remained at 4.1 percent for the third straight month, which is the lowest level since 2000.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has not exceeded 4.8 percent during President Trump’s tenure.
According to a January 2018 survey released by the Federal Reserve, businesses across the country are having challenges finding enough workers to fill the quality jobs that are available.
Despite labor market shortages, welfare enrollment has remained at or near-historic highs.
In 2016, over 16 million able-bodied adults were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In January 2018, over 74 million Americans were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a 29 percent increase over the 2013 baseline period.
Today, there are a record 28 million able-bodied adults on Medicaid. In fact, since 2000, the number of able-bodied adults on Medicaid has quadrupled.
WORK IS THE SOLUTION: Adding or enforcing work requirements for able-bodied adults on welfare is an effective solution to help millions of Americans regain their independence.
- Work leads to a higher income than welfare can provide and is the best pathway to the middle class.
- According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a hypothetical poor single-mother with two children could see her net annual income double with a part-time job at minimum wage, or even quadruple, with a full time job at minimum wage, compared to not working and receiving welfare.
- U.S. Census Bureau data shows that more than 97 percent of people who work full-time move out of poverty.
- Work is often the solution to many societal problems:
- A non-violent offender’s ability to have and keep a job once released from prison reduces recidivism by twenty percent.
- Those working are less likely to have kids before marriage and enter poverty.
- According to the Harvard Business Review, employed people rate the quality of their lives much more highly on average than the unemployed.
- Work decreases dependency on governmental assistance programs.
- In States that have restored work requirements, people on welfare are twice as likely to work.
- Welfare work requirements can cut the average time on the food stamp program in half.
REAL IMPACTS IN STATES: States that have enacted commonsense work requirements are seeing positive results, improving the lives of thousands of individuals and families.
- After Kansas implemented work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults on food stamps, caseloads dropped by 75 percent and the average amount of time spent on welfare was cut in half. In addition, thousands of people went back to work in more than 600 industries.
- Maine re-instated work requirements for able-bodied adults with no kids in 2014 and saw individuals’ incomes increase 114 percent in one year.
- Studies conducted after reforms in Maine and Kansas show that individuals who left welfare and went back to work saw their incomes increase, more than doubling on average; this increase more than offset the welfare benefits they lost. Welfare enrollment also dropped by 75 to 90 percent.
- More States have noticed and are leading the charge to provide greater opportunities to their citizens. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are currently implementing work requirements.