Welfare Reform

According to the Congressional Budget Office $921B is spent on programs that could be described as welfare. The huge number is contrary to what I’d like to believe but I can’t pretend it’s not there just because I don’t want to see it.

Part of that amount is for veterans’ benefits. I am a vehement supporter of veterans’ benefits but those benefits should come out of the defense budget, where the cost was incurred.

There is a need for welfare reform. Real reform is needed to make means tested (income qualified) welfare work effectively. I’ve known more than one underprivileged family earning just a tiny bit more than the maximum allowed to qualify for food stamps or heat assistance. When the working poor are told they can’t get the small amount of help they need, and they’re pushed through the cracks, they lose all that they’ve worked hard to achieve- housing, cars, jobs and self-respect.

If you’re just barely making it and your kids are hungry but you earn too much to qualify for food stamps you’re going to get grocery money somewhere. Maybe you short the rent or mortgage payment for a little while, then you have to use your gas money to pay housing costs, pretty soon you don’t have gas to get to work. These are the people who can no longer afford to work because if they worked they wouldn’t be able to survive.

The eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allow for monthly gross income of $2,422/net income of $1,863 for a family of 4! “Most households must meet both the gross and net income tests…”. That means that two working adults with full time jobs (40 hrs per week 160 hrs per month 320 hrs total) are making $7.56 per hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. I assumed there were two working adults in the scenario because one working adult with three kids to support, on that amount of money, was just too sad to contemplate.

From a monthly household net income of $1,863- housing $750, utilities $200, groceries $700, and gas $300- in the hole by $87. The cost of living is calculated for the rural northeast. People who do not have the ability to generate more income shouldn’t be denied basic subsistence.

Welfare reform is needed. Rather than taking more away from those with nothing, the time has come to cut corporate subsidies and to institute price controls on petroleum products and big agriculture. We all need to eat and we need to get to work so we can afford to eat.


About elroyjones

Equal Elroy, searching for the best answer.
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20 Responses to Welfare Reform

  1. Great Blog posting.

    I would add that it is not just the money paid to the recipients of the programs of which there are many, it is also the cost of administering the programs. The people, social workers, government workers, psychologists, you name it, they are getting paid to administer the programs as well. And they are legion. And they vote. And they vote to perpetuate their existences on the payroll even if the programs they administer enslave the recipients and make them dependent. Those government employees make huge amounts of money and have usually excellent benefits. Nothing wrong with them as a social class, but when you examine to cost of the programs you have to include the cost to pay the government employees that administer the programs.

    I think veterans should not have to pay state or federal income tax. Education at the university level should be free for them. They have gone the distance. They have earned it.

    Again, great post.

    • elroyjones says:

      You make a great point in the illuminating fact that welfare funds are not strictly for aiding the impoverished. It’s a double quandary. I haven’t done the research on DHHS payroll so I can’t speak to whether or not the average worker is overpaid; my suspicion is they are not. However, I suspect there is duplication of effort that could be streamlined.
      The problem then becomes what happens to the unemployed government workers who will be added to the unemployment rolls, requiring more case workers to manage them in the welfare process.
      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and to provide a detailed response.

  2. judithatwood says:

    You have certainly hit the mark with this one — I work a few hours a week, which combined with SS Disability, puts my gross income for the year around $11,000. I qualify for $16 in food stamps per month, which, as a friend of mine said today, wouldn’t even feed a cat. The cost of groceries here in the northeast, and I expect most other places in America, has risen so high, so fast, that the deli in the supermarket, (where fancy foods used to be $2 or $3 a pound,) now asks almost $7 a pound for American cheese. And I am one of the ones who is getting a free ride, according to our insane governor. Sometimes I want to clock him!

    • elroyjones says:

      I hoped you would respond, Judith. Your situation is another facet of a complex problem. You have a medical condition, which wreaks havoc with your life in it’s various physical manifestations. Yet, you plug right along doing the best you can, contributing to society on MANY levels.
      It is ludicrous that we expect people to house, feed, and clothe themselves on $916.66 a month which translates to $5.79 per hour based on a 40 hr week.
      Most of the working people in this country are a paycheck away from disaster. In my happy household we are one medical catastrophe away from disaster. It’s only going to get worse as our population ages.

  3. SprinklinThoughts says:

    Actually (in 2012) it’s closer to $451B – http://www.usfederalbudget.us/current_spending – and that is in a recession/depression year… Even the link you provide (if I read correctly) says $545B.
    I never trust Gov’t numbers (they lie whenever & however they can) and…
    I think maybe the numbers you saw are those that are falsely revised up by those (the rich) who are working to cut this item. — “In a 2011 article, Forbes reported, “The best estimate of the cost of the 185 federal means tested welfare programs for 2010 for the federal government alone is nearly $700 billion, up a third since 2008, according to the Heritage Foundation. Counting state spending, total welfare spending for 2010 reached nearly $900 billion, up nearly one-fourth since 2008 (24.3%)”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_programs_in_the_United_States

    But I do agree. Corporate subsidies is a great place to start – including taxing the rich at the more appropriate levels. “Corporate welfare in the federal budget costs taxpayers almost $100 billion a year.” — http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/corporate-welfare-federal-budget

    And yet you don’t mention cutting the military budget – which at over $900B (more than double the ‘welfare’ budget), is as much as the entire rest of the world combined. Why?


  4. elroyjones says:

    If you review the chart on the provided link, I combined the Medicaid $275B and Non-defense $646B allocations to arrive at the $921 total. I did not add the Other spending amount. No, I don’t mention reducing the military budget nor do I mention the grand theft perpetrated by defense contractors. My focus in the post is welfare reform.

  5. You’re a woman on fire! I appreciate all of your recent posts. Very enlightening and to the point.

    • elroyjones says:

      Thanks, Teresa. The choice of VP candidate lit a fire. I see wasteful affluence throughout the summer here. I hear independent micro-business owners touting the Romney agenda that will NOT help them and it scares me.

  6. gkinnard says:

    I could run with this for a few hours, but that might bore the heck out of you and your readers.

    This is a huge, multi-faceted issue, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to it. I do this stuff for a living, so I know a little about it. I hope that most of your readers know that “means testing” means drastically different things for different programs—and can differ greatly depending on the age of the person applying. Just because you qualify for one program does NOT mean you will qualify for another program—even if they seem very closely related.

    I have a sweet lady I assist who was a “pharmacy technician” in WWII. She was stationed state-side, so she was never, ever in any danger. She uses the VA—she qualifies for VA benefits—to pay for EVERYTHING in the world: including once a week transportation that would cost any other non-vet I serve $90 round trip. You and I pay for that. Incidentally, this same person hates Obama—and his fellow democrat’s guts—and all the “welfare crap” they dish out like candy. She doesn’t see her self as part of the folks that “use” the system . . . but isn’t she?

    I work within a subsided housing unit. I have nothing at all to do with the lease end of things, but I am privy to who-is-paying-what-for-rent (i.e., how much the government is helping them out). Most of the people I serve have little income or assets—but not all. I have served MANY folks who get their rent subsided even though they have $100,000, $200,000, or in one case $325,000 in the bank. All that is counted against them in regard to rent subsidy is the interest they make off that money. I’m not fond of this at all.

    Those are just a couple of examples. Neither of which have squat to do with Obama: he didn’t set any of this up.

    As far as things in my neck of the woods are concerned, my Governor is redoing all things social service and Medicaid. There’s no doubt in my mind that he will save taxpayers money. Most of that—IMHO—will be because of attrition: folks no longer know who the hell they’re supposed to talk to for services since everything has been renamed, reinvented, or revised, and they will end up dropping out of the system. The 20-year+ folks that people like me used to talk to in social services—and get actual answers from—have been . . . well . . . retired. Brownback’s methods will show costs savings, because less people—who qualify—will be making use of the system. The Governor has created a Tower of Babel in our state when it comes to social services.

    Regarding one of the things mentioned by William Thien: specifically the fact that the cost of these programs don’t simply involve benefits, but paying for support staff, administration, etc. I would be one of those support-type folks: my salary, benefits, and the cost of running my office is paid for by discretionary spending funds/HUD. I like my job and I think it provides an extremely valuable service—which will become vital if the presidential administration changes with November’s election. Trust me: if seniors have difficulty understanding Medicare, etc. now, they are not going to have a clue what-in-the-hell-to-do if and when Medicare is turned into a voucher program. Related: I can see the Medicare Advantage (HMO, PPO, PFFS) salespeople becoming highly aroused at eh fantasy of Romney/Ryan being elected.

    Well, I better end here, before my fingers go numb: then I’d have to file for the benefits that I hear Obama’s dishing out like candy. [smiling]

    • elroyjones says:

      I’ve been waiting to read your comments ever since I posted. The means tested definition is in desperate need of overhaul. Where I live a spend down is required before eligibility is granted to some programs but not likely all. Woe is us if Obama is not re-elected.

      • gkinnard says:

        I did go on a bit . . . but when you live it at work, and at home (Sam is SSI, HCBS, and Medicaid eligible), it’s easy to be passionate—and a little maniac.

        Things are never going to be perfect for everyone, but we could be in for some VERY trying times if Ryan/Romney manages—by hook, crook, or voter-suppression—to get elected.

      • gkinnard says:

        “Maniac” was a Freudian slip. I meant, manic, of course . . . at least I think I meant manic.

      • elroyjones says:

        hahaha! Maniac/manic, here at Chez Jones it’s a matter of semantics, the outcome is the same.

  7. There just isn’t enough money to go around. Part of it is the recession. Part of it is all the money we flushed invading Iraq for no reason. Now, let me see, who caused all of these problems? Oh… yeah… I need to do more Dick Cheney pictures.

  8. Peggy says:

    A national living wage would help. Here in 10 square miles surrounded by reality, there is a credit union called “Alternatives Federal Credit Union.” Every two years, they do a living wage study of the county to determine what the living wage should be. As of 2011, the living wage is $11.67 per hour.

    “How much does it cost to live in Tompkins County? According to the Alternatives Federal Credit Union bi-annual Living Wage Study, it is $24,271.50 or $11.67/hour for full-time worker. The Alternatives Board of Directors voted unanimously to raise wages to the new Living Wage level, continuing its commitment to its employees.
    The updated study looks at housing, transportation, healthcare and other necessities, as well as a modest allowance for recreation and savings to come up with the annual figure, up 5% from $11.11/hour two years ago. This figure represents the Living Wage for an individual whose employer provides health insurance. According to the Tompkins County Workers Center, an additional $1.11/hour would be necessary for a Living Wage if health insurance is not included. The minimum wage, set by the federal government, is $7.25/hour. Despite recent increases in the federal minimum wage, that figure has not maintained its buying power over the past thirty years. Returning to the same sources used in prior Living Wage studies,” Read on here: http://www.alternatives.org/2011livingwagepressrelease.html.

    I like that there is a link to the “Living Wage Employers” in the county, giving them kudos. Most are small employers and are considered liberals.

    This is how the living wage is figured:

  9. Let them eat vouchers. Keep giving them hell, Elroy. I may start to worry less about the election

  10. Pingback: America’s Nouveau Poor | Tis Pity He's a Writer

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