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December 22, 2014
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editorial

Defrauding us all


Furthermore, we seem to have different attitudes about public assistance than we do about other social welfare programs such as Social Security or Medicare. In fact, Social Security and Medicare work successfully to keep people out of poverty. So does public assistance. The truth is that when the economy is booming, employment soars, poverty falls and public assistance caseloads plunge.

Additionally, government welfare reform has largely worked. In the decade following passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which imposed time limits on cash assistance and sent large numbers of welfare recipients back to work, welfare caseloads dropped nationwide by 54%. In 1996, 4.7% of the U.S. population was on welfare. In 2012, that percentage had dropped to 1.7%. Reforms like this have helped make clear that welfare is not a way of life.

And it was only when the Great Recession hit that the trend was reversed, with 45 states seeing their caseloads grow again. In such hard economic times, social safety net programs should rightly grow as they work to offset the effects of high unemployment and keep millions of Americans out of poverty.

Programs that help reduce poverty are good for society at large.

We believe that blaming people on public assistance for the plight of their circumstances is not helpful. Instead, as a society, we need to support programs that best help people get out of poverty and jobs programs that help get people back to work.