The biggest accomplishment of the Clinton presidency was a good economy. And it was healthy because of two important related accomplishments that Republicans had a big hand in: balancing the budget and reforming welfare. Well, Bush and Obama have thoroughly abandoned the former accomplishment. Looks like Obama is going after the latter too:
Republicans are accusing the Obama administration of unilaterally gutting welfare reform after the Department of Health and Human Services quietly notified states that they may seek a waiver for the program’s strict work requirements.
How exactly the HHS change will play out is unclear. In Thursday’s policy directive, the department said the states may seek a waiver from the work component of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, in order to “test alternative and innovative strategies, policies and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
The pravda from HHS — which is rapidly becoming the most destructive of our federal departments — is that they are just creating flexibility in a time when jobs, especially jobs for poor people, are hard to come by. But the whole reason welfare reform worked in the first place was because of its inflexibility.
Now perhaps you could justify this under the “times are tough” argument. But — show of hands — how many of you think those waivers will disappear once times aren’t tough? Yeah, I thought so.
The fundamental problem with government spending on anything — welfare, military, education — is that it is ridiculously easy to start or increase and nigh impossible to roll back. The welfare state was built up with little resistance for thirty years. Rolling it back required a Congress and a President with enough spine to take he abuse and criticism of the Left, who all claimed it would leave poor people dying in the street (note: it didn’t).
You want to help poor people? Make it easier to hire them. And I don’t mean with subsidies and special tax breaks catered to powerful interests. Cut or eliminate business taxes, simplify regulations and suspend some of the Obamacare regulations. I realize that doesn’t buy as many votes. Hell, if poor people get jobs, they might start voting (gasp!) Republican, if you can imagine. But it will work. We only need look at the last 50 years of American history to see that.