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.