Tag Archives: Welfare Reform

Kansas enacts law to attach work requirement to welfare benefits

Kansas governor Sam Brownback
Kansas governor Sam Brownback

This story is from the Daily Signal, and it’s about a new (April 2015) Kansas law that produced great effects in the last year.

It says:

Over the past several years, the number of Americans on food stamps has soared. In particular, since 2009, the number of “able-bodied-adults” without dependents receiving food stamps more than doubled nationally. Part of this increase is due to a federal rule that allowed states to waive food stamps’ modest work requirement. However, states such as Kansas and Maine chose to reinstate work requirements. Comparing and contrasting the two approaches provides powerful new evidence about the effectiveness of work.

According to a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, before Kansas instituted a work requirement, 93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty. Few of the food stamp recipients claimed any income. Only 21 percent were working at all, and two-fifths of those working were working fewer than 20 hours per week.

Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty. Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year. They saw an average income increase of 127 percent. Half of those who left the rolls and are working have earnings above the poverty level. Even many of those who stayed on food stamps saw their income increase significantly.

Work programs provide opportunities such as job training and employment search services. For example, in Kansas, workfare helped one man, who was unemployed for four years and on food stamps, find employment in the publishing industry where he now earns $45,000 annually. Another Kansan who was also previously unemployed and dependent on food stamps for over three years, now has an annual income of $34,000.

Furthermore, with the implementation of the work requirement in Kansas, the caseload dropped by 75 percent. Previously, Kansas was spending $5.5 million per month on food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults; it now spends $1.2 million.

So, I am doing a hunt to find the best states to live in, and Kansas is in my top 5. They have Governor Sam Brownback, and he has just done a magnificent job pushing conservative policies – not just social policies, but fiscal too. It’s a great state, but still edged out by Oklahoma and Tennessee, in my opinion. We’ll see what else Governor Brownback has in store, though.

You might think that all the news is bad, and that no one is putting into place any conservative policies. Well, of course the good red states are putting in these policies, and of course these policies are achieving the desired objectives. If you elect Democrats, you get Detroit. If you elect Republicans, you get welfare reform that lifts people out of dependency and into earned success. I’m sure that they feel better about not being dependent, too.

Is dependency on welfare good for people? Or is it better for people to work?

Major welfare programs as of 2012
Major welfare programs as of 2012

What’s best for poor people – to remain dependent on government, or to be encouraged to work for their own money so they can be independent?

Consider this article from the Wall Street Journal.


Earned success means defining your future as you see fit and achieving that success on the basis of merit and hard work. It allows you to measure your life’s “profit” however you want, be it in money, making beautiful music, or helping people learn English. Earned success is at the root of American exceptionalism.

The link between earned success and life satisfaction is well established by researchers. The University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, for example, reveals that people who say they feel “very successful” or “completely successful” in their work lives are twice as likely to say they are very happy than people who feel “somewhat successful.” It doesn’t matter if they earn more or less income; the differences persist.

The opposite of earned success is “learned helplessness,” a term coined by Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. It refers to what happens if rewards and punishments are not tied to merit: People simply give up and stop trying to succeed.

During experiments, Mr. Seligman observed that when people realized they were powerless to influence their circumstances, they would become depressed and had difficulty performing even ordinary tasks. In an interview in the New York Times, Mr. Seligman said: “We found that even when good things occurred that weren’t earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people’s well-being. It produced helplessness. People gave up and became passive.”

Learned helplessness was what my wife and I observed then, and still do today, in social-democratic Spain. The recession, rigid labor markets, and excessive welfare spending have pushed unemployment to 24.4%, with youth joblessness over 50%. Nearly half of adults under 35 live with their parents. Unable to earn their success, Spaniards fight to keep unearned government benefits.

Meanwhile, their collective happiness—already relatively low—has withered. According to the nonprofit World Values Survey, 20% of Spaniards said they were “very happy” about their lives in 1981. This fell to 14% by 2007, even before the economic downturn.

That trajectory should be a cautionary tale to Americans who are watching the U.S. government careen toward a system that is every bit as socially democratic as Spain’s.

Government spending as a percentage of GDP in America is about 36%—roughly the same as in Spain. The Congressional Budget Office tells us it will reach 50% by 2038. The Tax Foundation reports that almost 70% of Americans take more out of the tax system than they pay into it. Meanwhile, politicians foment social division on the basis of income inequality, instead of attempting to improve mobility and opportunity through education reform, pro-growth policies, and an entrepreneur-friendly economy.

These trends do not mean we are doomed to repeat Spain’s unhappy fate. But our system of earned success will not defend itself.

How do we make government promote “earned success” over dependency on welfare?

Investors Business Daily reports on one state that decided to encourage people to get off of welfare, and to get back to work.


The number of childless, able-bodied adult food stamp recipients in a New England state fell by 80% over the course of a few months. This didn’t require magic, just common sense.

From December 2014 to March 2015, the caseload of able-bodied Maine adults with no dependents crashed from 13,332 recipients to 2,678, says the Heritage Foundation. This is a remarkable change and needs to be repeated in government programs across the country.

How Maine achieved this is no mystery. Gov. Paul LePage simply established work requirements for food stamp recipients who have no dependents and are able enough to be employed. They must, write Heritage policy analysts Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, “take a job” — just 20 hours a week — “participate in training, or perform community service” for a mere 24 hours a week. Recipients who do none of those are stripped of their food stamp benefits after three months.

This isn’t a radical new idea. Rector and Sheffield cite a successful historical precedent:

“When work requirements were established in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in the 1990s, nationwide caseloads dropped by almost as much, albeit over a few years rather than a few months.”

In the Obama era, “the food stamp caseload of adults without dependents who are able-bodied has more than doubled nationally, swelling from nearly 2 million recipients in 2008 to around 5 million today” across the country, Rector and Sheffield report. That’s far too many Americans who can take care of themselves living at the expense of others. The situation cries out for reform.

The Heritage report says that if the Maine policy were repeated nationally, and the caseload dropped “at the same rate it did in Maine (which is very likely), taxpayer savings would be over $8.4 billion per year.”

“Further reforms could bring the savings to $9.7 billion per year: around $100 per year for every individual currently paying federal income tax.”

[…]The success in Maine is but a blip, affecting only a thin slice of the nation’s welfare rolls. Yet it is a model, a prototype for reforming welfare programs in need of change or elimination, which is all of them. Policymakers at all levels should be rushing to adopt it, then adapt it.

Now, do you think that the governor of Maine is a Republican, or a Democrat? Republicans want people to be independent of government, and productive, because that makes them more free. Democrats want people to be unproductive and dependent, because that makes them easier to control.

Republican governor of blue state gets 70% of welfare recipients back to work

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)

This article is from the Daily Signal, and it clearly explains what happens when a blue state hits rock bottom and has to elect a Republican governor to clean up the mess left by a Democrat. In this case, it’s Republican governor Rick Snyder who had to come in and clean up the mess left by Democrat Jennifer Granholm.


Since Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder assumed office, the number of welfare recipients in the state has declined by a staggering 70 percent, according to a news report.

A total of 64,492 individuals received cash assistance from the state this past August, down from 227,490 in 2011. Snyder, a Republican, took office in January 2011 and was re-elected in November 2014.

Michigan Capitol Confidential, a news site, reported that the decline in welfare recipients could be due to new enforcement of limits on cash benefits. The state has begun enforcing a 48-month lifetime limit for its cash assistance program and a 60-month federal time limit.

The spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, Bob Wheaton, partially credited the drop in welfare recipients to the state’s improving economy.

In an email to Capitol Confidential, Wheaton said: “As the governor said at the time of the decision to enforce time limits, this was returning cash assistance to its original intent—a transitional program to help families as they work toward self-sufficiency while preserving the safety net for families most in need.”

Wheaton also said the program Michigan Works has helped recipients find jobs.

During Snyder’s time in office, the state’s economy has improved, and unemployment has decreased. The unemployment rate in Michigan dropped from 11.2 percent in December 2010 to 5 percent in September 2015.

Honestly, I don’t even think there should be such a thing as welfare. People should be able to put a voluntary contribution into an emergency account, and the government can match that, and if they ever lose their job, they can run their lives off their account. That’s fair. But instead, you have people going on welfare for well over a year, since Obama undid the Welfare Reform bill of 1996.

Maybe that’s why our labor force participation rate is at a 38-year low:

Labor Force Participation 2015
Labor Force Participation 2015

But in Michigan, things are much better. Because they have a Republican running the show. Republicans are not for welfare, they are for helping people back into the workforce. A hand up, not a hand out.

Federal court upholds Texas pro-life law that has saved about 10,000 lives already

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve of incrementalism
I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve of incrementalism

Great news!!! This story is from Life News, and I have more great news below.


A federal appeals court issued a ruling today upholding a Texas pro-life law credited with closing multiple abortion clinics and cutting abortions 13 percent, saving an estimated 9,900 babies from abortion.

The legislation, House Bill 2 (HB2), requires abortion facilities to meet the same safety standards of other Ambulatory Surgical Centers in the state, ensures that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and bans painful late abortions on fully formed babies. The admitting privileges portion of the law was the portion responsible for closing abortion clinics and, because so many shut down or stopped doing abortions, Judge Lee Yeakel claimed that constituted an undue burden on women.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an appeal of Judge Yeakel’s ruling and the appellate court issued its decision on that today.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lower court “erred by substituting its own judgment for that of the legislature” when ruling against the pro-life bill. It ruled that all abortion clinics have to follow the admitting privileges law except one.

And some more good news from Life News, this time from Missouri.


The Missouri General Assembly adopted legislation during this year’s session which will dramatically increase funding for alternatives to abortion programs.  The authorization for enhanced funding for abortion  alternatives efforts was included in a bill which overhauled the state’s major public assistance program.

The bill adopted by the Missouri Legislature, Senate Bill 24, was known as the “Strengthening Missouri Families Act.”  It was sponsored by Senator David Sater of Cassville, and handled in the House by Representative Diane Franklin of Camdenton.

The legislation revised Missouri’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.  That form of public assistance is most commonly referred to as welfare benefits, and used to go by the name Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC).

The most widely reported change contained in the bill was a provision that scaled back the period of time in which a person can receive TANF assistance.  The bill reduced the lifetime limit for recipients of TANF benefits from 60 to 45 months.

A lesser noted section of the bill established that 2% of block grant funds received from the federal government for TANF assistance shall be dedicated to the state’s alternatives to abortion services and public awareness programs.

That means that approximately $4.3 million in new annual funding will be available for alternatives to abortion programs. 

[…]Services financed by the program include prenatal, medical, and mental health care; child care, newborn, and infant care; food, clothing, and pregnancy related supplies; parenting training; housing and utilities; transportation; and educational services.  During the 2014 fiscal year, services were provided to a total of 1,511 women and their children.

[…]Another favorable provision in the bill calls for a similar 2% (another $4.3 million) of the federal TANF block  grant funding to be earmarked for programs promoting healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood.  These programs were created as a component of the major welfare reform law passed by Congress in 1996.

Those funds can be used for pre-marital education, marriage skills, marriage mentoring, and divorce reduction programs.   Funds can also be expended for parenting skills training, and counseling programs to combat domestic violence and child abuse.

The Democrat governor voted to veto the bill, but there were enough Republicans in the House and Senate to override his veto. So this is more good news. If you’re a fiscal conservative who believes in smaller government, you like the welfare reform in this story as well. I know I do.

What UK Prime Minister David Cameron will do, and an extra thing that he should do

CON = 331 (+24), LAB = 232 (-26), SNP = 56 (+50), LIB = 8 (-47), UKP = 1 (+1), OTH = 22
CON = 331 (+24), LAB = 232 (-26), SNP = 56 (+50), LIB = 8 (-47), UKP = 1 (+1), OTH = 22

Here’s an article from the radically leftist UK Independent, which is furious with the Conservative Party victory in Thursday’s national elections.

In it, they explain what Cameron intends to do:

David Cameron will use the Conservative Party’s first majority in the House of Commons for nearly 20 years to “deliver” on a radical agenda to cut welfare, shrink the size of the state and re-define Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Conservative insiders said Mr Cameron would move to the right to consolidate support among his backbench MPs after five years of compromise with the Liberal Democrats.

Among Mr Cameron’s first legislative priorities will be to enshrine an EU referendum into law, bring in the so-called ‘snoopers charter’ to give police greater powers to monitor internet communications and give English MPs a veto over legislation only affecting England.  The Tories also intend to publish plans to scrap the Human Rights Act within their first 100 days. All proposals had been previously blocked by the Lib Dems.

I always think of the UK as the biggest dupes when it comes to global warming, especially after the Climategate e-mails came out showing that that there was a concerted effort to falsify data and persecute global warming skeptics. But, like Canada’s Conservative Party, the UK Conservative Party is taking a stand against the pseudo-science.


As well as deep welfare cuts The Independent understands that the Department of Business and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, previously run by the Lib Dems, will be among the biggest casualties in terms of spending reductions.

Oliver Letwin, the Tories’ policy chief, has spent the campaign in Whitehall drawing up proposals to merge quangos and slash Government regulation. These are likely to form a key part of the spending review. The review has been made more difficult by Mr Cameron’s late and unexpected election pledge to find an extra £8bn for the NHS. This has yet to be funded and if the Tories stick to their other tax and spending commitments could require further cuts. Most senior Tories had expected to be negotiating another coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats, giving them the flexibility to raise taxes to fund their additional spending commitments. As it is they are now bound to implement legislation binding the Government not to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT rates for the next five years.

Quangos are “quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations”. Abolishing or merging these will put a serious dent in government over-spending – and overreach.

The Democratic Unionist Party factor

Cameron would do well to add the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) members to his coalition. Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan says that “On immigration, on constitutional reform, on defence, on Europe, on rural issues, on education, on law and order, the DUP is, well, conservative.”The Conservatives need 323 seats to govern. They have 331 by themselves, and 8 more would help them in case there are any rebellions from within their own ranks. If he can get the lone UKIP member on board, that would help too, giving him a majority of 340.

More about the DUP:

The DUP bills itself as “right-wing in the sense of being strong on the constitution”, but “to the left on social policy”. The party’s members show a strong leaning towards the Conservatives, Professor Jonathan Tonge notes, backing them by a ratio of seven to one over Labour. The DUP also back the Conservatives on areas like Europe, with Nigel Dodds insisting that any coalition they are involved in would need to offer an EU referendum.

[…]The DUP, which has close links to the Dr Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church, has frequently sparked controversy for how it discusses homosexuality. This has led to David Cameron facing tough questions earlier this month during a Q&A when one audience member wanted him to vow not to go into coalition with the DUP because of its views on LGBT rights, something he refused to rule out.

[…]The DUP also oppose the right of women to an abortion, with Jim Wells saying it should be ruled out for rape victims. The party has also called for a parliamentary debate on resinstating the death penalty.

It sounds like they are even further right than Cameron, which is good, because Cameron is what Americans would call a RINO.

Give Scotland enough rope to hang itself

But the most important thing for Cameron to do is to give Scotland full fiscal autonomy.

This is even something that the SNP leader wants:

Nicola Sturgeon was forced to admit in the second Scottish leaders’ debate that her MPs would be prepared to vote next year for full fiscal autonomy, which according to experts would make Scotland £7.6 billion worse off.

[…]In March, she suggested it might not happen straightaway as she faced claims it would cost almost 140,000 jobs and leave Scotland with a higher deficit than Spain.

[…]It would mean Scotland opting out of the Barnett Formula which currently sets Scotland’s public spending block grant, and gives Scots around £1,200 extra per head.

[…]In March, Ms Sturgeon dismissed warnings from the impartial Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that her general election demand for full fiscal autonomy would create a multi-billion pound financial black hole in Scotland’s finances.

Daniel Hannan thinks this would be a great idea:

Commentators struggle to explain the rise of the SNP: why, seven months after rejecting separation, should Scots turn to the separatist party? Those commentators miss the point. The SNP knows fine well (as Scots say) that opinion has not moved on the independence issue. Nicola Sturgeon had to keep promising that there’d be no re-run of the vote.

No, the SNP is better understood as Scotland’s version of Greece’s Syriza or Spain’s Podemos – a far-Left, populist insurgency. Like those parties, it has a touching belief in its ability to conjure wealth through alchemy.

[…]There is a very weak link in Scotland between taxation, representation and expenditure. Because of the Barnett Formula, Scottish politicians get to spend money that has been raised through taxation elsewhere. This incentivises their constituents to vote for high-spending parties. Over time, that tendency has become self-reinforcing to the extent that the very act of calling for fiscal restraint is seen as alien, un-Scottish.

Not all Scots are on the Left, obviously. There are some free-marketeers in the land of Adam Smith. But the prevailing assumption among Holyrood politicians and pundits is that higher spending is a defining national characteristic. They don’t use those words, of course. They say, “We’re a compassionate, fair-minded people”. But it’s what they mean.

What can be done about it? Well, the SNP demands full fiscal autonomy, and David Cameron should hurry to meet that demand. Partly because linking taxation to expenditure north of the border might allow a revival, over time, of Right-of-Centre politics in Scotland. Partly because the measure will also be popular with English taxpayers. Partly, too, because, without such a reform, separatism will revive. And partly because greater autonomy for Scotland could bring about a new, devolved settlement for the entire United Kingdom, something that is long overdue. Mainly, though, because most Scots say they want it, and the SNP has won an unarguable mandate. What are we waiting for?

The Scottish electorate – by and large – make Greek socialists like Tsipras / Syriza appear fiscally prudent. They need to find out how economics works the hard way. Let them make their own decisions, and maybe when they are picking leaves off of trees to feed themselves in a few years, they will come to their senses and be ready to deal. It’s very important for people who are led by their feelings and who pursue dreams against reality to crash and burn, so that they understand the value of practical people who have worked hard, saved and played by the rules.

The Scots are voting for slogans like “stop austerity” without any idea of how difficult working and saving really is for taxpayers, of which there are precious few in Scotland. Let them face the consequences of their own folly, and then come back to the negotiating table with a weaker hand, just as Greece is doing now. Maybe if Cameron does this in the UK, it will inspire Harper to do the same with Quebec in Canada. Just give Quebec full fiscal autonomy and then cut off the equalization payments that allow them to live far beyond their means. Make them grow up.

One thing is for sure. The UK electorate (aside from Scotland and Wales) has impressed me. This is the beginning of a period of liberty, prosperity and security for the UK, and I for one am envious that they are getting a head start on it, while we have to wait another year and a half before we join them by electing a Republican president, and holding the House and Senate.