On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rescinded an Obama-era 2012 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) memorandum, TANF-ACF-IM-2012-03, which had previously encouraged states to apply for waivers to eliminate work requirements related to Welfare. HHS’ new policy is to encourage states to enact work requirements, a proven strategy to reduce Welfare rolls.
For a full summary, you can view the PDF of the order here.
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“This is fantastic news and exactly what we hoped for from Dr. Tom Price and the Trump administration. With the failure of the Obamacare repeal and other important reforms in Congress, the responsibility to make important policy changes has returned to where it should have been all along: the states. We encourage states to develop and implement innovative free-market solutions, not only for Welfare, but on health care and a number of other issues as well.”
Dr. Huelskamp represented Kansas’ 1st District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017.
“The work requirements as originally enacted into law benefitted everybody: the poor and taxpayers. It was an anti-social abuse of power for President Barack Obama to mess with them. But that decision simply reflects basic Democratic Party beliefs. Many Democrats are and have been opposed to work requirements, preferring Welfare dependency over work.”
“The decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to end the de facto admonition by the federal government over work requirements is the right one and a signal to the states the federal government is opening the door to restoring the practice.
“Work requirements have proven to be successful in the past. They reduce poverty by encouraging work and raising self-reliance. The new work requirements now being considered by states are modeled based on methods that have worked very well since they were included in the Welfare reforms of the 1990s.
“States that have enacted work requirements have enjoyed significant success. Maine’s reforms are a good example. In Maine, able-bodied adults without dependent children are required to work, participate in a work program for 20 hours per week, or do community service for about six hours per week. Since the new reforms were implemented, the caseload in Maine for able-bodied adults without dependent children quickly dropped by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 in December 2014 to 2,678 recipients in March 2015.
“Work doesn’t only help an individual’s economic well-being, it also improves their mental, social, and cultural well-being as well. Having a stable job improves self-esteem and fosters healthy and safe households.
“The real focus of welfare programs must be to provide temporary or supplemental assistance while encouraging work and independence; they ought to focus on encouraging able-bodied recipients who are enrolled in these programs to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on government.”
“Rescinding the Obama-era memorandum and returning to the traditional stance of coupling Welfare with work requirements is a small but welcome government reform. The best cure for unemployment and poverty is work and/or education. Coupling a helping hand with such basic expectations is the only moral way to help people in times of need, because work requirements encourage people to help themselves.
“By returning to the spirit and letter of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the Department of Health and Human Services is doing the right thing for taxpayers and those temporarily in need of taxpayer-funded assistance.”
“We are seeing the return to normalcy in Houston and in our country’s income security programs. The second has been long overdue.
“The work requirements of TANF and other components of our income security programs were suspended during the flood of distress that followed the Financial Crisis of 2008. In addition, the period of unemployment benefits was increased several times. These actions reflected the challenges that people faced in transitioning from one job to another during a severe recession.
“As the flood of distress subsided, normal conditions should have been restored. Instead, the relaxed conditions became permanent. As a consequence, many people were tempted into lives of no-work or part-time work supplemented by food stamps, Medicaid, and cash grants.
“During the years that followed, the unemployment rate fell, but much of that decrease was because people dropped out of the labor force. The economy stopped falling, but it didn’t start growing fast enough to absorb the overhang of persons left unemployed by the recession or to provide the impetus for wage increases for those who were employed.
“Now, with a more-vigorous economy, as reflected in the recently revised gross domestic product figure for the Second Quarter; another positive reading from the index of leading indicators; and growing business and consumer confidence, the long-overdue restoration of TANF work requirements comes at exactly the right time.”
“Reimposing work requirements for TANF will help restore labor-force participation, which has declined since the most recent recession and shown little sign of recovering. Work requirements for health insurance subsidies could be a next useful step.”
“What a novel idea: having able-bodied people work to qualify for benefits. It’s time to remind all of us that Welfare is for those who try to better themselves but are unable to through no fault of their own. This is a great beginning!”
“Basic economics tells us public policy should take into account the fact people respond to incentives. We also know employment provides more than income: It also provides a sense of personal worth. The recent action of the Department of Health and Human Services encourages individuals to seek employment and improve their confidence in themselves, rather than rely on the government for their subsistence.”