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U.S. Welfare and Reform of 1996

What major criticisms of the U.S. welfare system led to its reform in 1996 (via the Personal Responsibility Act)? How did this reform try to address those criticisms? Do you agree with the general thrust of the reform and with its emphasis on work requirements and time limits on welfare benefits? Has the reform reduced U.S. welfare rolls or increased them?

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What major criticisms of the U.S. welfare system led to its reform in 1996 (via the Personal Responsibility Act)?

No one liked the welfare system prior to 1996. Governors complain that federal law is overly prescriptive and are willing to take less federal money in return for more flexibility. The public believes that welfare is anti-work and anti-family although polls show that the public wants welfare reformed in ways that do not penalize children. Welfare recipients find dealing with the system degrading and demoralizing; most would prefer to work1. Experts note that welfare has done little to stem the growth of poverty among children. In all but two states, welfare benefits (including food stamps) are insufficient to move a family above the poverty line2.

In short, the current indictment against the welfare system ...

Solution Summary

No one liked the welfare system prior to 1996. Governors complain that federal law is overly prescriptive and are willing to take less federal money in return for more flexibility. The public believes that welfare is anti-work and anti-family although polls show that the public wants welfare reformed in ways that do not penalize children.

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