There are many negatives about the Obama administration and the president’s quest to “transform America.” There is one that I believe is the most egregious and will be his legacy. Why the worst? Because his policies and programs on welfare are destroying the American work ethic for millions of all races.
“One of the single best ways to climb out of poverty is taking a job, but as long as welfare provides a better standard of living than an entry-level job, recipients will continue to choose it over work,” said Michael Tanner, senior policy analyst at the Daily Caller Foundation. Once, people would take any job they could to provide for themselves and their family. There was pride in being self-sufficient. Sure, there were times when some had to look to families, friends, neighbors and churches for assistance, and a last resort for many was to go on “relief.” That is what welfare was called back then.
The welfare rolls grew steadily for decades, and then in 1996, the Welfare Reform Act was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. It was basically workfare; claimants had to actively look for work, and their government benefits had a short time limit. The results were spectacular. The welfare rolls dropped considerably and more people were working — and in the process gaining self-respect.
In 2008, we had a recession, and President Obama, to help “stimulate” the economy, issued a presidential order and lifted all the requirements for welfare; people could stay on it for 99 weeks or more. He also revamped the food stamps program. This program’s cost has risen to be the highest in the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget — $78 Billion — and now is called SNAP for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. The Obama administration is actively seeking people to sign up.
The federal government now funds 126 programs designed to support low-income earners or non-earners. This is on top of state and local government programs. The effect, according to Tanner, is that “welfare currently pays more than the minimum wage job in 35 states.” Tanner says welfare recipients in Hawaii get the most benefits —$29.13 per hour — $60,590 a year pre-tax income annually. According to the Labor Department, Hawaiians on welfare earn 167 percent of the median salary in the state, which is only $36,275. Massachusetts welfare recipients can get $24.30 per hour, and so it goes.
Most of this increase in welfare and food stamps is occurring on the coasts, and we in the middle of the country have been less affected, probably because of a much higher work ethic and greater self- reliance.
Of course, the left will cry, “We have to help the needy,” “We can’t let children starve.” or “There are too many people without jobs.” Now don’t get me wrong, I think we should help those who are really in need of food and welfare to get them over the crisis. But there have to be enforceable guidelines and severe penalties for violators, and we should not have a misplaced national guilt trip for using common sense.
Progressives are constantly calling for more jobs. I am sure they realize that we have advanced into a highly technical culture and that there are very few jobs for education dropouts and the indolent. Regrettably, under the Obama administration, we have greatly expanded the number of those who are poorly educated and require welfare, making millions more people dependent on the government. To quote Charles Murray, an outstanding Harvard political science professor, “The government is systematically undermining a civic culture of independence that was a great American treasure.”
Arthur Loub, 1517 Williamsburg Dr., is retired.