Welfare Reform Success Fails in Wisconsin

Published June 22, 2007

Your article “Court Setback for Wisconsin Welfare Reform” (June 19, 2007) reminds us that important public policy decisions do not belong in the hands of judges.

President Clinton’s reform in 1997 removed the entitlement status of welfare, allowing states to put restrictions on who can receive benefits. These work rules help foster self-sufficiency–in fact, the number of people on welfare in Texas has decreased by 77.8 percent between 1996 and 2006. Poverty rates have also fallen modestly since 1996. Work rules in Texas helped people escape welfare.

The public, and most elected officials, rightly consider welfare reform a tremendous success. Now, judges in Wisconsin have tragically undermined the effectiveness of work rules because they disagree with public opinion. Tragically, this decision is likely to trap more low-income people in the welfare system.

Dane G. Wendell ([email protected]) is a legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute. He is author of Heartland’s forthcoming “State Welfare Report Card,” which describes welfare reform successes and failures in the 50 states.