We all know the welfare system doesn’t work. In fact many of us probably remember a favorite quote by President Ronald Reagan who said, ” We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.” Surprising enough, some others agree with this too.
Robert Gehl reports in an awesome commentary Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback explained why welfare today is failing the people it’s supposed to serve.
It’s failing, the governor contends, not because it’s not delivering enough benefits to enough people. On the contrary, that’s why it is failing. The proof lies in his own state.
Welfare is failing, just not for the reason you think.
For too long, conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., has dictated the best way to move people out of poverty is to expand welfare programs so that individuals could possibly, gradually, work their way out of dependency.
Kansas’ recent reform experience turns that notion upside down.
It is now clear that welfare fails because it ensnares people in poverty by paying them to not work. Welfare fails because it discourages people from improving their lives. So many recipients don’t work and get caught on welfare, suffering in poverty for years…even generations.
Fortunately, there’s a proven way to help.
Kansas shows what’s possible when you free people from the welfare trap. With assistance from the Foundation for Government Accountability, Kansas just completed the most comprehensive welfare tracking project of its kind. We matched more than 41,000 individuals as they moved off welfare with their employment records at the state’s Department of Labor.
Gov. Brownback describes the situation: Able-bodied Americans signing up for welfare after the Obama Administration waives work requirements for welfare recipients. People sign up in record numbers to receive $200 every month without working at all, or even looking for work. “As a result,” Gov. Brownback writes, “Only one in five did any work at all. Almost all were in severe poverty.”
The reform, the governor writes, is to restore work requirements and time limits for able-bodied adults on food stamps. Those changes cut the welfare roles by 75 percent. A full 13,000 left the program in just a few months. The result: Americans who get off of food stamps don’t just survive, they thrive.
When moved off food stamps, half of these Kansans began working immediately. Nearly three-fifths were employed within 12 months and their incomes rose by an average of 127 percent during that first year. Incomes kept increasing as they progressed to full-time work and increased their wages. Better still, those higher wages more than offset the food stamps lost, making them more financially secure. This is real success!
Kansas’ simple reforms have led to more employment, higher incomes, less poverty, and lower spending.
Even those still on food stamps (but now required to work to keep them) are twice as likely to be working and have also substantially increased their incomes, though their overall incomes are still not as high as those freed completely from welfare. The result is that these individuals now need less help and their average time on food stamps is cut in half.
The bottomline is…the real proof is helping welfare recipients become LESS dependent on government and more dependent on themselves. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has got welfare right! Americans who get off food stamps THRIVE and when we stop paying those on welfare to NOT work, they will get a job! America has got a long ways to go to clean up the work of Obama, the “food stamp president”. Many more states hopefully will follow in the footsteps of Kansas Gov. Brownback. Thank you Gov. Brownback for putting some “Reagan” back in America!