President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday designed to establish or strengthen work requirements for certain Americans who receive federal welfare benefits. Since taking office last year, the president has explored various options to ensure that people receiving benefits can transition into jobs that eliminate their need for such programs.
While the executive order does not put any specific policies in place, it does pave the way for further welfare reform. The White House asserts that work requirements will make it easier for Americans to escape the cycle of poverty and become less dependent on the government.
Trump to Implement New Work Requirements for Welfare Recipients
The purpose of the new work requirements is to make sure that able-bodied adults can earn an income that enables them to get off welfare. The executive order states: “The Federal Government should do everything within its authority to empower individuals by providing opportunities for work, including by investing in Federal programs that are effective at moving people into the workforce and out of poverty.”
While the order does not indicate which programs will be subject to the new requirements, it does state that the federal government will strengthen existing work requirements and create new ones where necessary.
The order calls on the departments of Agriculture, Labor, Treasury, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Education, and Health and Human Services to perform a comprehensive review of the federal assistance programs in their agencies. These departments are expected to submit their findings to the White House within 90 days. They will also provide a list of suggestions to implement the new requirements.
According to a memo released by the White House, the new requirements will — among other things — “address the challenges of hard-to-employ populations,” “improve employment outcomes and economic independence,” and “streamline services to more effectively use taxpayer resources.”
Do Work Requirements Help?
Conservatives have long advocated for work requirements for welfare recipients. The welfare reform legislation passed in 1996 included these types of policies. However, during the recession, President Barack Obama removed them.
While Democrats supported welfare reform in the ‘90s, it appears that they have changed their minds. Now that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the far left, they are arguing against work requirements. Left-leaning news outlets like CBS, Salon, and The Huffington Post have published pieces slamming work requirements.
But what do the American people think? In February, the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) released the results of a poll showing that the majority of American voters disagree with the Democrats. Indeed, they found that between 75% and 90% of the American public favor work requirements for those who receive benefits in the form of welfare, public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps.
There is evidence that supports what conservatives and the rest of the American public believe about work requirements. In 2014 Maine implemented these requirements. At the time, 13,332 residents were receiving food stamps. By March 2015 — only four months later — just 2,678 were receiving the benefits. This marks an 80% drop in the number of adults who were receiving food stamps.
Kansas had a similar result. When Governor Sam Brownback reinstituted SNAP work requirements 2013, it made an immense impact. These requirements caused a dramatic decrease in the number of adults taking food stamps. Because of these programs, 75% of Kansas’ food stamp recipients no longer needed food stamps. According to the FGA, their income increased by an average of 127%.
Not only did work requirements enable Kansans to be no longer dependent on the government, but they also saved taxpayers almost $50 million per year. While the programs did not work perfectly, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t a resounding success.
Work Requirements Break Dependency on the Government
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Americans on welfare are not attempting to abuse the system. Studies have shown that only a small number of individuals live on welfare with no intention of leaving the programs.
However, most people who use welfare programs are those who have fallen on hard times. The problem is that leftist policies make it easier for a person to remain dependent on the government rather than making their own way. Work requirements will help more people get themselves out of poverty quicker. If the White House’s executive order is any indication, we will likely see some positive changes in our welfare system coming soon.
A self-confessed news and political junkie, Jeff’s writing has been featured in Small Business Trends, Business2Community, and The Huffington Post. Born in Southern California and having experienced the 1992 L.A. Riots up close and personal, Jeff's insights are informed by his experiences as a black man and a conservative.
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