I’m responding to the highly deceptive Aug. 5 guest column titled “Welfare is the new work.” The author begins by making the sweeping generalization common to conservatives through which they apply the buzzword “welfare” to every form of help, from food stamps to housing assistance. He then makes the totally misleading claim that food will now be delivered to food stamp recipients who are basically just too lazy to leave the comfort of their homes. In reality, the proposal covers homebound seniors who are too elderly and/or disabled to shop for themselves. The sound reasoning behind this proposal is that it’s far less expensive to help maintain an elderly person in their own home than to support them in a nursing facility simply because they can’t access adequate food.
And according to the Census Bureau and the SNAP Quality Control Board, food stamp use has grown fastest among workers with some college education, which is largely attributable to the fact that many new jobs are low/minimum wage, and are often part-time.
Let’s next examine his claim that the 1996 Welfare Reform Act was a success (beyond an initial positive showing in response to the superior temporary job market in the mid-‘90s, and more adequately funded services).
The University of Michigan’s National Poverty Center determined that the number of U.S. households living on less than $2 per day per person rose by 130 percent between 1996 and 2011, and that children living in extreme poverty doubled during the same period (from 1.4 million to 2.8 million).
Further, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that while extreme poverty in general doubled, it actually tripled among families with female heads-of-households (who made up the majority of former cash aid cases).
At first they were used to provide employment services/training, child care, the collection of child support, and other services that were more effective in enabling low-income working families to survive. However, these grants were never increased to keep up with inflation, and as states ran into budget problems originating in other areas, those initial services were slashed and time limits were lowered. The majority of states now provide benefits at less than 30 percent of the poverty line (about $5,200 for a family of three).
And despite the fact that Arizona has among the highest childhood poverty rates in the country, it is the only state that now caps time limits for receiving aid at just 12 months, which max out at just $278 a month for a family of three with no other income. How much more hard-hearted, Republican-led slashing of Arizona’s survival programs does the author of this piece expect?