Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do U.S. Welfare Programs have Work Requirements?

I received this question from Kurt Lassberg:
"Did the Obama administration gut the work requirement for welfare reform? I'm hearing some (Chris Matthews for one) say this is a lie. What is the truth?"
If welfare is narrowly defined to be Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, then the point is debatable, although the answer is still probably yes (see this comment).

But food stamps is a much bigger program, and for food stamps there is no debate: the Obama administration did eliminate work requirements with its stimulus law and since the law expired has continued to waive those requirements for any state that requests a waiver (about 45 states requested and received). The legislative and regulatory details are in my book The Redistribution Recession.

I suspect the debaters you see are talking past each other on the work requirement subject: one side with a narrow definition of welfare that excludes food stamps and the other with a broader definition including food stamps.

A key point in my book is that an economic analysis of our current economic woes must consider the government social safety net as a whole.


DWAnderson said...

This piece has links to some detailed analysis of how those requirements have been weakened recently.

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