“Since its inception, the welfare system has grown into a large bureaucracy that might be susceptible to measuring success by how many people are enrolled in a program rather than by how many have moved from poverty into financial independence,” the executive order reads.
The order calls on the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education departments to use the next 90 days to submit a report with their recommended policies to the White House.
The order doesn’t yet set any new policy, but it does reflect a hardline conservative view of the nation’s entitlement system — one that welfare experts say relies on faulty arguments and could cut off the nation’s neediest from lifesaving safety net programs.
The text of the executive order calls for a review of all welfare programs across agencies, something a senior White House official calls a push for a “coordinated” effort across federal and state agencies to reform the welfare system.
Trump has long called for tougher requirements to receive welfare benefits but hasn’t been specific on what policies he would like to see and which programs he’d like to target. His order is now calling on his administration to iron out the specifics.
The government spends $1.1 trillion a year on assistance for poor and low-income people through cash, food, housing, medical care, and other social services. Yet 97 percent of that is not counted by the Census Bureau as income for purposes of measuring either poverty or economic inequality.
Ninety-four percent of Americans believe that able-bodied adults who receive cash, food, housing, or medical care from the government should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving that aid. In the past, work requirements have been successful in reducing welfare rolls and increasing work and self-support.
Policymakers should strengthen work requirements by eliminating waivers that exempt certain counties and states from enforcing the current work requirement on able-bodied adults without dependents.
Sixty-seven percent of able-bodied adults without dependents in the food stamp program are in a waived area and do not have to fulfill any sort of work requirement. Eliminating these waivers will encourage 2.9 million unemployed, work-capable, childless adults who are on food stamps
The president has issued a bold call to action on a critical problem: Despite its generosity, the welfare system is failing both taxpayers and the poor.
Encouraging self-sufficiency and well-being through work and marriage is the most effective and most compassionate way to approach those in need. A few simple, time-tested reforms would be a great start at improving the system.