The welfare reform bill, signed into law in 1996 by Bill Clinton, supposedly ended welfare as an entitlement, required recipients to start working two years after receiving benefits, limited federal benefits to five years, and other changes.
But did reform go far enough?
The Federalist’s Robert Tracinski suggested seven ways to reduce the welfare state (and Big Government along with it). An excerpt:
1) Repeal ObamaCare.
If we want to roll back the welfare state, we will never have any better opportunity to start than by repealing ObamaCare—a program that is relatively new, has never been popular, and is in a slow process of imploding. The latest reports: state insurance exchanges set up to implement ObamaCare are foundering, and insurers in these exchanges are filing requests for enormous increases in premiums. Why? Because “with a full year of claims data under their belt for the first time since Obamacare went into effect, they’re finding the insurance pool was considerably older and sicker than expected”—expected, that is, by everyone except ObamaCare’s critics. Meanwhile, ObamaCare has pushed a lot of people into high-deductible insurance plans that have made it harder for them to pay for health care.
Even the people who once supported Obamacare might get on board with this. The question is, if a Republican ends up in the White House, will he repeal it or offer a mere fix?
Health savings accounts and means-tested Social Security make the list. Tracinski said that before Obamacare, he had a tax-free account for health expenses, and such accounts were “popular and worked well.” Regarding Social Security, he suggested the government reduce benefits for people who can provide for themselves.
CURE’s Star Parker proposed what she calls a 30/30 plan. “Young workers 30 years old and younger and earning $30,000 or less should be given the option of opting out of Social Security and investing their payroll tax in their own personal retirement account.” Instead of waiting for future government payments, earners can use the money they earn to plan for the future.
Tracinski also believes that “saving the cities” would reduce government dependency.
[T]here is a huge opportunity for Republicans to help revive the economies of big cities by cutting through high local taxes and strangling local regulations, and by fighting corruption—all of which Democrats are uninterested in doing. And there’s definitely a big opportunity for Republicans to champion reforms like school choice, which would help mitigate one of the biggest disasters in poor inner-city neighborhoods: failing public schools. And to be fair to reform conservatives, some of them do put this sort of thing in their agenda.
Rather than showing up only for meetings in black churches, Tracinski said, Republicans can become “serious players in debates over urban reform, and recruiting and backing serious candidates.”
Restarting economic growth (which includes tax cuts), reforming welfare again, and giving states more authority to roll back entitlements make the list.
Do you agree with his suggestions? What would you propose?
Photo credit: Selbe B (Creative Commons)