Remember the welfare reform made back in the 90’s, when the then administration pushed forward a drive to “end welfare as we know it?”
That was a drive that made a lot of people happy: it got people relying less on welfare and more on themselves. Fast forward to 2012, and we still have people pushing for even more welfare reforms.
But the only problem is that jobs are not as plentiful or as well-paying as the 90’s – and it is the poorest of the poor who are most affected by this turn of events.
Take for example Arizona. It is one of 16 states that have cut welfare caseloads ever since the recession started, but what makes Arizona so special is that it cut its welfare payouts by as much as half. The state of Arizona used ‘permissive’ rules to divert welfare money to other programs with only 30% of federal welfare money actually being doled out as cash benefits.
Now this is not something without consequences. An increasing number of people – single mothers included – are turning to desperate and thinly disguised acts of crime in order to make ends meet. Selling food stamps while skipping meals, shoplifting, scavenging, selling blood and even going back to abusive partners are all done in order to provide enough food for themselves and their family.
Here is a little extra something to put things in better perspective: the federal government increased welfare funding by $5 billion1, but welfare caseloads rose a meagre 15% from the lowest levels in two generations. In the meantime, 11 states across America have cut their own rolls by 10 percent or more since 2007. Arizona cut it down by a whopping 20% while shortening time limits to just two years from the original five years.
The states say that finances force states to cut the rolls, but the truth of the matter is that states do this because they have been given the ability to turn away those looking for aid – an option given to them by welfare reform made in the 90’s.
Welfare reform had indeed ended welfare as we knew it. Now the states are basically flipping us off and leaving us to our own devices while using federal money to finance their other ‘priority’ programs.
Yes, that is definitely not welfare as we knew it.