Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently said it is time to follow the example set by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and place a new set of welfare reforms into action.
“On August 22, 1996, President Clinton signed into law the most sweeping changes ever made to our nation’s safety net,” Camp said. “The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was the centerpiece of these reforms, replacing the New Deal-era Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. TANF had a new mandate to help those in need by supporting and rewarding work and assisting low-income families in becoming self-sufficient.”
Camp said after the reforms were enacted, single mothers increasingly entered the workforce and the earnings of households headed by single mothers began to climb. Child poverty in single mother homes fell and welfare caseloads declined significantly.
Despite the success of changes to welfare, Camp said many of the nation’s other safety-net programs have not been reformed and most low-income benefit programs do not set many requirements to receive benefits. Camp said the current programs do little to support and reward work, and the costs of these programs rise without proof they are really helping those in need.
“The landmark 1996 bipartisan welfare reform law successfully moved millions of Americans from welfare to work,” Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said. “Seventeen years later, it’s time for Congress to fully examine this law to ensure it fits today’s realities. Water-downed work requirements coupled with lax oversight and misguided government spending is pushing our safety-net programs in the wrong direction.”