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Since it was "reformed" in 1996, welfare in the form of Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families has lifted fewer and fewer children out of deep poverty.
Let me just cut to chase, okay? Welfare reform passed a decade and a half ago is in desperate need of its own reform. In 1995, Aid to Families with Dependent Children lifted out of deep poverty 72 percent of the children who otherwise would have been in households earning below half the federal poverty line. By 2005, AFDC's successor, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, lifted just 21 percent out of deep poverty. And that's not all of it, Danilo Trisi and LaDonna Pavetti have concluded.

Sixteen years ago, TANF provided cash assistance to 68 of every 100 families with children living in poverty. In 2010, it provided cash assistance to only 27 of 100 such families. The two researchers refer to this as the TANF-to-poverty ratio. In the late 1990s, that ratio fell as welfare caseloads dropped because of a short-lived prosperity when many people who previously couldn't find jobs did so. But the caseload has also fallen during the hard years that followed, particularly of the most recent recession. That latter fact indicates a serious disjuncture between the needs of the poor and one of the key programs being provided to raise them out of poverty.

While we justifiably talk about the damage done to the middle class by tax and spending policies favoring Americans at the top of the heap, we've almost stopped mentioning what's happened to the poor. They have been a match for the cliché: They are getting poorer. And a big contributor is TANF, which replaced AFDC to "end welfare as we know it," as noted in the famous campaign slogan of Bill Clinton, who signed the reform bill in 1996.

Getting low-income Americans out of a welfare-dependency cycle and into jobs was an important objective of some of the more well-intentioned backers of the reform effort. The system was definitely broken. But the five-year lifetime limit on how long a person could receive TANF funds, the conversion of federal money for the program into block grants for the states that they can spend "flexibly" and stringent work participation requirements have all contributed to making it more difficult for families in need to obtain assistance. The situation was already worsening as early as 2001, but it accelerated with the advent of the 2007 recession.

While the number of families on welfare went from 4.7 million in 1995 to 2.0 million in 2010, that doesn't mean that someone in those 2.7 million households suddenly off the rolls found work. In fact, many did not. But because of changes made in 2005, states get a federal credit in their TANF block grants for every percentage decrease in their welfare caseload. But that credit isn't calculated with any attention paid to why someone goes off welfare. Thus, in all the states, but some far more than others, reducing the welfare caseload regardless of the consequences to the individuals affected has become standard operating policy. Those reductions have allowed states to "flexibly" move money from the federal TANF block grant into other areas of their budgets.

Results? The number of families with children in poverty has risen 17 percent, from 6.2 million to 7.3 million. "The number of families with children in deep poverty increased by 33 percent between 1995 and 2010, from 2.4 million to 3.2 million.  But TANF failed to respond to the increase in need: between 1995 and 2010, the number of families that received TANF declined by 58 percent."

This is no small matter:

Two well-known poverty researchers, Greg J. Duncan and Katherine Magnuson, have shown why this trend is so troubling, providing evidence that poverty among young children not only slows them in school but also shrinks their earnings as adults. Welfare-to-work programs and other anti-poverty experiments “suggest that income plays a causal role in boosting younger children’s achievement” in preschool and elementary school, they note. [...] They also found that among families with incomes below $25,000, children whose families received a $3,000 annual income boost when the children were under age 6 earned 17 percent more as adults, and worked 135 more hours per year after age 25, than otherwise-similar children whose families didn’t receive the income boost. The same effect was not found among families making over $25,000, for whom a $3,000 boost in income increased young children’s later earnings by only 2 percent.
Trisi and Pavetti have made several recommendations to improve the program. Key among them are making the work participation requirements more realistic and flexible, requiring states to spend a minimum percentage of their block grants on assistance to the poor and conducting a thorough federal review of TANF's role in lifting families with children out of deep poverty.

Flexible block grants, with reduced funding, have become a right-wing mantra for "reform." Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposals, for instance, would fund Medicaid and the food stamp program (SNAP) with capped, flexible block grants. This is a license for the states to transfer funds to budget areas that whoever is in power favors. In the current political climate in many states, such capped grants are also a guarantee that impoverished Americans will be worse off after the changes are made.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 02:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (108+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 02:59:36 PM PDT

  •  That "triangulation" theory has been working (18+ / 0-)

    out really well, hasn't it? Why, we hardly need Republicans to do the damage Republicans want to do to the "least among us."

    Today, if you exist... that's already suspicious.

    by Jim P on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:03:44 PM PDT

  •  It had well intentioned backers? (9+ / 0-)

    I did not know.  They must have had special dog-whistle proof earplugs.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:05:50 PM PDT

  •  Food Stamps were also evicerated. (23+ / 0-)

    you get 1/3 less as they are now deemed supplemental.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:10:49 PM PDT

    •  Well, food isn't really a necessity. (12+ / 0-)

      Children getting all insecure about there not being enough food to eat just need to toughen up and focus on more important things. Like doing well at under funded schools. Those test scores are important. Shouldn't matter if they can't think properly because their growing bodies aren't getting enough nutrients to function. They just need to stop being so insecure and do the work. I mean, come on! This is America. Children don't go to sleep hungry insecure in our great country. Everyone knows that!

      Do I really need to add that this is thoroughly PO snark?

      Fair's fair. I don't vote in your church; don't go preaching in my government. - Crashing Vor

      by Onomastic on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 06:52:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  indeed, snark aside-- (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gooserock, greeseyparrot, swampyankee

        the contortions of education "reformers"-- that pointing to poverty is an "excuse" rather than something that needs to be systemically addressed to help kids do better in school -- is amazing. They're so busy bashing public school teachers that they have to be really pressed to acknowledge that even the best teachers on the planet would do better if the kids weren't hungry, or homeless, or if they didn't have to skip school because their parents would lose jobs if they stayed home to take care of sick siblings, eg.

        (Teachers and administrators shouldn't be allowed to point to poverty as a rationale for their own failings; I get that. But the flip side -- that poverty doesn't have an impact on failing schools -- is ludicrous.)


  •  thanks for covering this (23+ / 0-)

    I wish I could remember the context, but I saw a clip a few months ago talking about a poverty-stricken mother I think in Kentucky.  Having to take a bus hours every day to get to her job to support her kids.  And the commentator, who interesting enough I believe was a law enforcement officer, saying on how impossible her life is.

    How in the world can anyone manage to be a good parent under these circumstances?  And provide appropriate support and supervision for their kids.  Especially given that the kids probably attend poverty stricken schools.  
    And, please no..."I walked 5 miles to school every day, worked three jobs when I was 13, etc. stories". Most of us have hardship stories.  The point of these programs is to make them as feasible and workable as possible.  Not to set people up to fail.

    I don't know what Clinton, who I generally appreciate, was thinking.  I'm not the least bit surprised that this program has been a huge failure.  

    •  See My Graph Below About the Other End of His (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mary Mike, Onomastic

      economics. Not really someone to generally appreciate.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:58:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not exactly sure what graph you mean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        My recollection of the 90's was that people have jobs and homes...Again, really profoundly disappointed in Clinton in this policy...which seems to have been a disaster...but...


        •  ah just found the graph (0+ / 0-)

          you are absolutely  correct about most of the country staying flat...and still...the 90's were a lot better for most people...don't know how much Clinton had to do with either of those...except for the welfare "reform"


    •  The story I recall like this was even worse... (3+ / 0-)

      ...the welfare mom hadda take buses to someplace where she hadda cross a six-lane highway and was killed trying to get to work...

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 04:17:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This one's worse (4+ / 0-)

        A mom and her kids get off the bus across the street but directly in front of their apartment, and  to reach the only stop lights/pedestrian crossings would make them walk more than half a mile to get home. So she decides to cross in the middle of the "block." At the median her four year old darts out into traffic and is killed by a drunk driver. The driver gets charged with a hit and run, and the mother is convicted of vehicular homicide.

        Never mind that the drunk driver might as easily have hit the child in a crosswalk, running a red light. The mom not only was jaywalking, SHE was deemed responsible for her child's death.

        story here

        Note what the article says about the composition of the jury -- people who have cars and drive everywhere, with no concept of what it's like to manage kids and errands by bus, let alone walk half a mile out of their way just to get home.

        "I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more." - Popeye the Sailor Man

        by congenitalefty on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 12:07:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  correction: vehicular manslaughter (3+ / 0-)

          Still a three year sentence, punishing a woman who's already suffered the death of her child, punishing her other kids by taking their mother away from them.

          All because a community can't be troubled to provide decent protection for pedestrians (poor people) and users of mass transit (poor people.) And ultimately blames the poor for their own suffering.

          "I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more." - Popeye the Sailor Man

          by congenitalefty on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:53:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  There have been several periods in our lives (16+ / 0-)

    when we could have qualified for TANF, and I didn't apply because we could scrape by. I intentionally saved those years of possible benefits for a more rainy day. We went without many things, sometimes even electricity for a week or so at a time until I could get the money together, sometimes we filled water jugs at a neighbor's house until that bill could be paid, we've often gone without a phone (in a house with three asthmatics). But I'd already used some of my TANF years during a high risk pregnancy and during the recovery from the c-section after when my ex-husband was laid off at the same time.
    Could that money improve our situation? Hell yes! We live below half the poverty level currently. I've just gotten really good at budgeting and borrowing from Peter to pay Paul when I have to. Will we ever be bad off enough that I apply for TANF again? I don't know, honestly, maybe if a hurricane comes through and blows our trailer away.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:23:54 PM PDT

  •  and the 1% continues to screw the 99% (10+ / 0-)
    Flexible block grants, with reduced funding, have become a right-wing mantra for "reform." Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposals, for instance, would fund Medicaid and the food stamp program (SNAP) with capped, flexible block grants. This is a license for the states to transfer funds to budget areas that whoever is in power favors. In the current political climate in many states, such capped grants are also a guarantee that impoverished Americans will be worse off after the changes are made.

    slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:24:40 PM PDT

  •  If I had to pick a single number to use as (18+ / 0-)

    an index of the health of a society I might choose the proportion of children living in poverty. It's a disgrace that dealing with this problem is not a top national priority.

    The budgetary arguments are just an excuse. If we have the resources to provide more than half of the world's military spending we can find a way to keep millions of kids from living in poverty.  Both Republicans and centrist Democrats would rather wag a finger at the poor and preach about personal responsibility than explain to voters why it's evil for a rich country to allow kids go to bed hungry.

  •  When crime rates ascend like a rocket in 10 years (13+ / 0-)

    ...this will be one of the most important drivers, along with catastrophic unemployment levels among young urban males and the willful distruction of public education. Oh, yeah. And making abortion absolutely unobtainable for poor women will also pile on, per the original (pre-global-warming-denialism) Freakonomics.

    Don't worry, though. Whatever Wackenhut calls itself nowadays, they'll be there to run hundreds more for-profit prisons for brown people in the 2020's.

    •  Not to mention the private guard force... (4+ / 0-) guard the homes of the rich fux from the rest of us.

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 04:20:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why are they poor? How many kids do they (0+ / 0-)

      have even though they either don't have a job or their job is minimum wage.

      I'm not speaking of families where parent or parents had an income when they started their family and then lost their job. I'm referring to women who have not income, but become pregnant multiple times. Yes, I am blaming the "victim." Isn't that a form of child abuse?

      How many of you buy incredibly expensive homes or cars and have no way to pay for them? Should I be responsible for your debt?

      Kids are a million times more important. They're fragile and need care. You just can't give birth and hope for the best.

      I gladly pay taxes and want to help the poor improve their life, but there are things that can be done to prevent or at least lessen kids in poverty.

      Kids need to do better in school. (They do get school breakfast and lunches.)

      Parents need to see that their kids do better.

      Police/residents have to keep neighborhoods safe so children can live a normal life without the fear of drive by shooting or succumb to the lure of gangs.

      I just don't agree that spending money alone will solve the problems of the poor. We had been doing that for years.

      It's going to take a combination of benefits and participation by the poor to help themselves.

      Progressives will win when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:54:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So you only want your taxes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        to go for those kids you deem worthy through their parents actions? You get to judge how worthy they are? Seriously?  Perhaps that's not what you meant but that's the impression you just gave.
        Do you really think anyone who is poor wants to be poor? Yes, there may be a few drug addicts, etc who are there per their own actions. But that's not the majority of the poor by any means. If you want to help the poor, push for living wage jobs. You can't get out of poverty if you're raising two kids on three part time minimum wage jobs. And good luck finding full time work, or anything above minimum wage. Even if you are lucky enough to have a college degree, or two college degrees that doesn't mean you're not working part time at McDonald's, especially if you have to work around your kid's school schedule. Because of course if you use daycare the bulk of your paycheck is paying for daycare, not anything else. AND you have to work while the daycare is open, and if you are using public transportation that also cuts into the hours you can work because you travel much slower than if you have a car.
        Drop the kids off at daycare at 6:30 when they open (after an hour on the bus), back on the bus another two hours to get to work, it's now 8:30 if the bus isn't late, so can't risk scheduled start till 9. The daycare closes at 6, so you have to get off work by 3:30 to make sure you can get to daycare in time to get your kids, cause afternoon traffic is worse.  Pick up the kids at 6, get home by 7:30, 8 pm. Homework for older kids, dinner, baths, bed. Repeat. Daycare costs $150 to $200 per week. You're working from 9-3:30 at $8 an hour. You're making $260 per week (before taxes).  If you're lucky you can get subsidized child care and find a place with an opening relatively close to work. If not, if you're on the waiting list, this is your reality.
        And now someone wants you to do something to help get yourself out of poverty. How? With what time? And who's watching the kids while you do this elusive thing?

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 04:47:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent comment. Dead on target. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Just makes me crazy when affluent people pontificate about how those undeserving poor folk just need to stop breeding and get a job, and stop sponging off my tax dollars.

          Yesterday I saw a giant gas-hog 2 story pickup truck with an empty bed and one guy in it driving to the grocery store. On the bumper was the classic teabagger bumper sticker:

          "Work harder; millions on welfare depend on you".

          Assholes. You have no idea where your income tax dollars really go, do you?

          •  I do know where my tax dollars go (0+ / 0-)

            And I know that there is rampant fraud in all parts of government that sucks up lots of money.  I am sure that there fraud in much of the welfare system.  Just like anywhere else, people will find ways to manipulate the system (more kids with different dads, work under the table, multiple addresses, etc.)

            I understand the need for a support system for the poor, but I am also aware of the abuse of the system.  

            My wife is a public school teacher in a proverty area.  Because of all the cuts to education (we are in California) she has been hit with large cuts to all resources, multiple classroom population resizing (now looking at 33 students to 1 teacher), and teacher layoffs and "bumping" where teachers are being forced to move from one school to another because the classroom resizing reduces the number of classes (thus teachers) needed in a school.  Before I go on, it is important to understand that my wife is the most dedicated person to her teaching career.  She has often taken the lowest kids (as in kids that were retained a grade in kindergarten) and brought them to that point that they were excelling the standards for second grade.  She even took a kid that was being "mainstreamed" from special education (he barely made first grade entry level standards) to ending second grade at grade level and being removed from the special education level. She is know to work till 6pm at the school and several hours at home each day to ensure that she is ready to teach and the classroom runs smoothly.  

            In reading the above comments I see my wife and my responses.  But I have to agree with my wife and agapplemac when I hear my wife's stories.  She has seen numerous "parents" complain about their kids having to do any sort of school project because it interupts there free time.  She has had parents yell at her for making their kids (who are not very well behaved) have to pay attention to learn the information for tests.  She has heard kids that complain they are hungry yet can tell you their score on the newest video game.  She has seen "parents" keep their kids in free before school care, school, and after school care come to get the kids looking like they haven't worked at all, every day.  She just told me of a story about a kid, with a kindergarten sibling, who got an award during a minimun day assembly and uses the free afteschool day care.  The parents arrive, attend the assembly, take the kindergartener home, and tell the other kid that they have to stay at the school for several hours longer in the afterschool day care.  She tells me of kids coming to school with a large bag of potato chips as their lunch.

            Many of the people here understand that education is one of the ways that you can achieve success, but most of the parents my wife deals with seem not to care or even try to help their kids.  They seem more interested in spending their money (likely from welfare or other government assistance) on cell phones (including for the kids), and other things then on providing food for their kids and help with their education.  Several of these parents are doing "generational welfare", where the parents parents, or even grand parents are on welfare, and are ensuring their kids are going to do the same.

            My wife feels that so much money goes to giving these kids things, like instrument use for the skeletal music program (which many kids "lose"), free lunch, free day care (when a district next door requires people pay for it),
            and other things that if some of this money was placed more into teaching, more kids could be helped.  Because any teacher will tell you that the higher number of kids in a classroom, the lower the quality and amount of teaching can be done.  

            I know that there is a need and that a welfare system is needed.  I also know that until we can change so many things (bring jobs back by reducing off shoring, restoring education to create a skilled work force, etc.) it is needed.  But I also feel that there is a sizable portion of those in need that should take an interest in helping themselves and their children in a more positive way.

            I know that I am going to get ripped into but the reality is that we should be helping the poor, there needs to be more done to reduce the fraud, and to encourage that the parents of these kids actually help the kids, not just have them.  

            Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

            by SQD35R on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 10:57:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You're dead wrong on so many levels. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        1) Actual aid to the poor in American has been falling like a dropped stone for more than 30 years now. You can look it up. Welfare benefits have fallen by more than 60%. Funding for vocational training, education in prisons, life skills training and so on have been zero'd out in budgets over the last 2 decades. So we really don't know if government assistance would help the poor; we've never really tried. Even the most generous mid-1960s social welfare programs actually transferred more useful benefits to middle class social workers, teachers and low income housing developers than to actual poor people.

        2) The brutal decline in the minimum wage and all unskilled wages (compared to inflation) has pushed poor and working poor Americans into a bottomless pit they can't possibly work their way out of. Pile on exploding health care and housing costs, plus the high cost of shitty food in many urban/rural poor areas, and it's hopeless.

        3) But we're always willing to hire more police, build more prisons, and lock brown people up for 15 years for petty drug offences; then we make sure we don't give them any education or job skills, and pitch them out of prison into the same toxic no-jobs environment they came from, with the added handicap of a criminal record. Good luck with that.

        4) Finally, nobody gets to tell anyone whether they get to have children or not. Not you, not me, not the Koch brothers, not government. For the desperately poor, it's about the only freedom left in life.

        You may want to check out; it's probably more hospitable to your views.

  •  Helping People (10+ / 0-)

    is not what the Conservative Austerity agenda

    is all about.

    It has been, and always will be,

    about their own personal wallets.

    What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.
    -- Maslow ...... my list.

    by jamess on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:31:03 PM PDT

  •  The Other Side of Welfare Reform Same Period: (10+ / 0-)

    Image Hosted by

    It doesn't matter which party is conservative.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 03:55:43 PM PDT

  •  Also need to mention (16+ / 0-)

    that the percent (according to HHS) of "child-only" TANF cases is 37.2 percent.  That would be children in various forms of foster care, group homes, and juvenile facilities.  Orphans, victims of child abuse, children in mental health facilities.

    When the teabags talk about "making people on welfare work" or elimination their benefits, I get visions of child labor and Oliver Twist.

  •  This is neoliberal reform (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, congenitalefty

    that ought to be reversed. but will it become a rallying cry, among many, with progressives? Remains to be seen.

    •  Problem is, the poor, being poor, have no power (0+ / 0-)

      and the non-poor don't much care, because the poor are different from them.

      Does anyone think for a minute that the perception of poor people being darker, for the most part, isn't part of their plight being ignored in favor of handwringing about the middle class?

      "I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more." - Popeye the Sailor Man

      by congenitalefty on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 12:13:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No power and no visibility (0+ / 0-)

        Families are doubling and tripling on housing since the 1960s.  Every winter there are life-taking fires caused by stoves and candles because families can't afford safe fuel. I recently read about a family of 15 left homeless bya fire in a rowhouse!  Everyone is one sick day or childcare disaster or car breakdown away from totally disabling poverty.
        Women in Kentucky are working to support their families on $2 an hour.  
        I just had to put $3,000 on my credit card to pay for my 32-year-old son's teeth (which I don't mind because I can afford it but he can't).
        If you are not experiencing poverty, you have no idea!

        Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please -- Mark Twain

        by OnePingOnly on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:47:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Something that needs to be addressed is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, marina

    the states, like Michigan, making it difficult to get SNAP.

    They are making it an obstacle course.

  •  Someday I'm going to be wrong about these A-Holes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, mickT

    and it will be a great day, indeed.

    This is just one of the many reasons that reading diaries and replies extolling the 'great' accomplishment of Clinton still makes my blood boil.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 10:07:49 PM PDT

  •  "Deep Poverty" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    If we were just using poverty rate, it's barely budged since the welfare reform act, even as caseloads have plunged.

    That looks like a fair metric for success to me.

  •  Clinton sucked (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, mickT, cacamp, Greyhound

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 07:15:03 PM PDT

  •  I am not an economist. (3+ / 0-)

    But sixteen years ago, I cried when I heard AFDC was going to end.  It had been a lifeline for those in the deepest poverty. I knew it was absolutely devastate the poorest people, including children, in my community.

    I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

    by Lightbulb on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 07:17:06 PM PDT

  •  To me Welfare "reform" is what you get (8+ / 0-)

    when liberals and true moderates allow bad faith Movement Conservatives to define what constitutes reform. To me, the biggest problem with so-called Neoliberalism is that it often fails to be skeptical of the motivations of people who are not acting in good faith when they come to the table.

    There is bad faith all over welfare reform.

    In what universe is a "lifetime cap" a good idea?

    If you accept the premise that so-called "lifestyle cases", the bon-bon eating welfare mother that Ronald Reagan relished speaking of, are more than outliers but a significant part of the program.

    Imagine if, even though you paid in to the system in the past, you could only be on unemployment once in your life for 99 weeks, and never again. Like you can never lose you job unexpectedly and be totally screwed again ten years down the line. Even though, when better days came back, you paid in again.

    I've met people who were on welfare, who used SNAP, or who had housing assistance who also paid their fair share of taxes when they were experiencing better days and did so again when they rebounded.
    Our nation is full of people who were once doing well, making a decent living, paying the taxes that went into public assistance, and then something happened and their life imploded. Their husbands left them high and dry. A wife died tragically after a long and expensive battle with cancer that left the family destitute. Shit happens.

    Welfare reform went from 'we need to fix things that are in need of tweaking and fixing' to 'we need to take punitive steps to prevent this from getting to be too big a budget priority.'

    Rather than assuming that somebody might go back on public assistance as a "lifestyle choice" I tend to believe that somebody can have a life where they rise and fall, and that somebody who falls back down is not necessarily down because they are a bad person who made idiotic choices or who likes to live on assistance.

    If you can trace an idea or a proposal back to a "scholar" at CATO, Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute, or the American Enterprise Institute, chances are that any benefit to the welfare recipient from "reform" was always meant to be a happy accident.  

    Poor people choosing to be poor. Poverty as a lifestyle. A Calvinist need for purifying punity.

    Poor people are poor because they have little or no money.

    It can be as simple as that. You can never pick up a drug or a bottle in your life and be dirt poor, you can do all the right things and be dirt poor, you can work like hell from sunrise to sunset and be dirt poor.

    Every liberal should look back on the 1990's and take note.

    When you adopt Movement Conservatism, even it's assumptions about people and how they behave, as the jumping off point, let alone their policies and economics, you get short-term savings that the Right will then use to justify a tax cut that is far in excess of the savings you might see, and a bigger problem down the road when their policies epic fail on you.

    Every fiber of my being has my back up against people like Michelle Rhee because of how I see things like Welfare Reform from the past working out today.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 07:28:17 PM PDT

    •  Further (5+ / 0-)

      we have an absolutely useless news media that aids and abets a lot of really awful things in this country, one of them being grinding poverty being virtually invisible to millions of Americans.

      It's easy to tell a lie about people you don't see, don't know, and aren't likely to run into.  
      In a culture where it's a bigger sin to call a liar a liar than to lie?

      It's easy to conclude that Welfare Reform worked out "awesomely" if you never see a poor person ever anyway.

      I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party

      by LeftHandedMan on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 07:33:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Breakdown by State (3+ / 0-)

    The differences from State to State would be interesting to see. Some States have consistently made it as hard as possible for anyone to get benefits, even when it's just pass-through from the Feds. Others are much better about informing people what's available and streamlining the application process.

  •  I wish DKos had been around in 1996... (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder how many Democrat superfans would've applauded their hero president for signing that monstrosity like they do now for secret drone murders.

  •  It was devastating on the reservation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost and Found

    where 70-90% of the people are unemployed. Many children went hungry and many parents were driven into homelessness. We're still suffering it's effects today.

    It's also a major reason I detest Bill Clinton.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 07:58:54 PM PDT

  •  Stats (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DQKennard, auapplemac

    When I read these sorts of articles, I try to see what the stats are and where they come from. In this case, the various charts and stats in the report linked are not really verifiable, as they are based on various sources of data, some (most?) collected by the CBPP from "directly from the states", but there are no specified, checkable sources in the report appendices. In addition, virtually all are based on "CBPP analysis of Current Population Survey [and other] data." But they don't really give the precise sources and replication or audit is not possible. Undoubtedly the authors are  honorable social scientists, but it's also true that the CBPP is an organization with an agenda and political ties. If AEI or Heritage issued something like this, people here would be all over it with a fine-tooth comb. That is not possible for this report. Yet, for something this important, checkable data would be highly desirable.

    •  That's something you should take... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rebel ga, Lost and Found

      ...up with the authors of the study. I am sure they can point you to the precise location of such data.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:20:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Possibly true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        However, to be frank, I think that's actually your responsibility, if you are going to present this as the basis of your diary. To a degree, you've kind of vouched for it by putting it out under your byline.

        •  I'm fine with that. I trust... (0+ / 0-)

          ...that they have done their research well based on my having read a fair number of other assessments of the 1996 welfare reform act.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:29:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Another Great Diary MB! (0+ / 0-)

        I updated this after reading your diary about transcanada trying to build part of the pipeline in Texas and Oklahoma. Mountaintop Removal, Gas Fracking & Tar Sands XL Pipeline An American Tragedy! [Totally Updated]

        Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

        by rebel ga on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 08:47:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A Story about how Wefare DeFormed began (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greyhound, sailmaker, FloridaSNMOM

    Robert Rechtor, of the Heritage Foundation authored this bill when he attended a community meeting and encountered a bunch of women who were single mothers going to college and on welfare.  Incensed that a these "uppity women" were "using the System" he ran home and wrote the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Act or Welfare DeFormed as I call it.  Of course Rector did not believe HE nor his friends were "using the system" at all while sitting around their heated pools collecting their tax free dividends, oh no!

    Rector refused to acknowledge that these women had fled the Virginia countryside where for over 3 centuries their ancestors lived under slavery conditions,even after slavery was abolished.  If they had stayed in their communities, their biggest "break" would've have been to work as a maid in some "big house".  Instead they came to DC to go to college and get an education instead ~ as over 70% of their sisters of all races who were in poverty did before Welfare DeFormed was signed into law.

    Most of all it codified into law that paid work making rich men like Rector and his friends even richer ~ any job even if it didn't make enough to pay the rent ~ was "better" than the unpaid work that women have done since time immemorial, which is care giving.  If they created institutions to replace this "free" work, it would cost $Billions.  Instead they codified into law that that work still being done with no support today, was "doing nothing" only paid work is "doing something."  Millions of women make the agonizing decision whether or not they can work for a wage or do the 24/7 care for a loved one every day, even if they have never had children.  This is because women are the caregivers to their elders, and then their spouses as well.  Little of any of it is supported.

    But poor women, indeed no woman should be allowed to have that choice or even accommodation for the care giving they need to do.  Thanks to Rector, the legislators (mostly white, mostly men) who applauded and passed TPRWOA and President Clinton who signed it into law, force women into paid work because anything else is they have to do is "doing nothing."  

    Meanwhile Rector and his cronies continue to sit by their heated pools feeling SO accomplished.  As they snap their fingers for the maid to bring their drinks, they refuse to see the millions of children they've plunged into permanent poverty.  They believe that not allowing these kids' mothers to go to school or even care for their own loved ones is "not doing anything."  They prefer to think that everyone else in the world should be paid to raise these kids, certainly not their own parents!  

    If there is no money to provide for extra-curricular activities when poor kids turn 12 and there is not any adult supervision, well let 'em run the streets.  Just blame those neglectful mothers who are gone to two jobs, pretend they are "crack whores" because these kids should just become fodder for some more lucrative wars anyway.  Those perfectly manicured hands could never be considered dirty from the delinquency that surely follows ~ and the 1000% greater cost of the foster homes and prisons that has ensued.

    Laughing at the anticipation they would never again meet those "uppity black women" at any more community meetings and that the financial rape of all women was being codified into their dreams, Rector and his friends were already counting their money as President Clinton picked up the first pen to sign what they wrote ...

    Cat in Seattle

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they hurt you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

    by mntleo2 on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 09:28:51 PM PDT

  •  The dark art of Democratic compromise (0+ / 0-)
    Since it was "reformed" in 1996, welfare in the form of Temporary Assistance
    for Needy Families has lifted fewer and fewer children out of deep poverty

    This is shameful for the nation, and the Democratic president Clinton who enabled it.

    And to think he made this deal with the devil because he was afraid he couldn't beat Bob Dole.

    Reform the Democratic Party. We've been lulled to sleep by false promises of hope from a corporatist cabal for too long.

    by masswaster on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 10:09:38 PM PDT

  •  refrigerators (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluerall, FloridaSNMOM

    There is no poverty. They have refrigerators! I can't remember what Republican said that, but he did.

    •  probably the same one (0+ / 0-)

      that said catsup/ketchup  is a vegtable

    •  And washing machines! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Washing machines aren't really luxury items, though a lot of housing for the poor doesn't include washer/dryer hook ups. If you've ever tried to get a week's worth of laundry for a family of four, especially when toddlers or infants are involved, to a laundromat without a car you know how much difficulty is involved. Even if you are lucky enough to have a car, what you spend at the laundromat every week is horrendous, not to mention the time spent sitting there waiting when you could be taking care of so many other chores that were put off during the week. And if you have to take small children with you it's even worse, because those places aren't exactly kid safe or clean.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Fri Mar 16, 2012 at 04:34:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One regular discussion thread (0+ / 0-)

        on a different forum I am on discusses how best to handle washing your clothes without access to a washing machine.

        When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

        by Alexandra Lynch on Sat Mar 17, 2012 at 06:01:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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