Since he moved into the White House, President Barack Obama has only doubled down on the War on Poverty's failure.
But didn't we already "end welfare as we know it" in the ’90s? No. As successful as the 1996 welfare reform law was (and it did decrease welfare roles and child poverty rates), it reformed only one of the more than 70 federal anti-poverty programs.
- Account for welfare spending. Congress should require the President’s annual budget to detail current and future aggregate federal means-tested welfare spending. The budget should also provide estimates of state contributions to federal welfare programs.
- Get costs under control. The next step in welfare reform is to control the explosive growth in spending. Once the current recession ends (when unemployment reaches 6.5 percent), aggregate welfare funding should be capped at pre-recession (FY 2007) levels plus inflation.
- This could save Congress $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.
- Promote work, not government dependence. Building on the successful 1996 model, welfare reform today must continue to promote personal responsibility by encouraging work. For example, food stamps, one of the largest means-tested programs, should be restructured to require recipients to work or prepare for work to be eligible to receive benefits.