No More Free Lunch: Trump following in Reagan’s footsteps by insisting the able bodied work for welfare

No More Free Lunch: Trump following in Reagan’s footsteps by insisting the able bodied work for welfare, by Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State.

President Lyndon Johnson unleashed “the Great Society” on America. It treated welfare as a right and created a culture of dependency. Expanded benefits encouraged illegitimacy, discouraged education, punished work and undermined families. Entire communities suffered as families dissolved and values deteriorated.

Seeing political advantage in making more people dependent on government, Democrats ignored the ill consequences. But President Ronald Reagan, who pressed welfare reform as California governor, took up the challenge in Washington. …

A Democratic House limited President Reagan’s ability to make changes. Then came the GOP Congress elected in 1994. … It changed the dynamic of welfare in key ways, one of which was permitting the states to require the able-bodied to work in exchange for their monthly benefit check. The legislation helped reduce welfare rolls—by about 50 percent in just five years …

Now, President Trump is following in the Gipper’s footsteps. With welfare costing $1.1 trillion last year, most paid for by the federal government, the administration has proposed tightening eligibility requirements for several programs and hopes to cut outlays by $274 billion over the coming decade.

President Trump’s initiative revives the federal workfare requirement. Wrote the President to Congress: “Work must be the center of our social policy.” The purpose is not to punish the needy, but to ensure that they are taken care of. Wasted welfare “takes away scarce resources from those in real need,” he explained. …

The Obama administration wanted to expand welfare dependence and allowed states to waive a provision that Congress intended to be mandatory. … In 2000, 17 million people received Food Stamps. The [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)] rolls are now at a staggering 44 million, at a cost of $71 billion annually. …

The Trump administration would require states to toss in a buck for every four spent by Washington. Moreover, it would be conditional upon the states requiring their able-bodied to earn their benefit. Explained the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney: “If you’re on Food Stamps and you’re able-bodied, then we need you to go to work.”

It turns out that work works. In 2014, Maine added a requirement that able-bodied Food Stamp recipients find a job, get job training or volunteer at least 24 hours a month. Within a year the number of people getting Food Stamps dropped from more than 13,000 to barely 2,700. That’s a cut of 80 percent.

At the start of 2017, thirteen Alabama counties began mandating their able-bodied adult SNAP recipients to work, seek work, or get approved job training. By May, the rolls had dropped by 85 percent. Statewide, since January, the number of able-bodied adults on SNAP has declined by 55 percent. …

The idea that giving away “free stuff with no strings attached,” in this case, food, to anyone who signs up for it results in a whole lot of people signing up is pretty basic reasoning, except perhaps at some Ivy League institutions. …

Moreover, there should be reciprocity. It is only fair to request that those who receive benefits work to earn them. It’s the Biblical model. And it is supported by nine out of every 10 Americans.