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Essay/Term paper: Welfare

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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Welfare


Welfare. Whether you collect it, or you pay for it (and for EVERY
working American does one of the two), most citizens of our country are familiar
with it. Yet as every second of the day passes, more and more of my money and
yours is being allotted to this growing epidemic called welfare. The Personal
Responsibility Act, signed by the President, was a monumental change in welfare
as we know, or used to know it. The welfare system is still in need or more
strict and stringent policy reform, yet the Personal Responsibility Act was a
prodigious step in the right direction.
In the past few years, the federal governments and state governments
have tried to change and improve the welfare system. The Clinton Administration
campaigned to "end welfare as we know it." The Administration's proposal limits
AFDC benefits to two years, during which employment services would be provided
to recipients. Nearly 20 welfare reform bills have been introduced in the 103rd
Congress. Besides the above mentioned bill, three major proposals were offered
by Republican members: The GOP Leadership Welfare bill, The Real Welfare Reform
Act, and The Welfare and Teenage Pregnancy Reduction Act. Now the Republicans
have pulled together a strong and controversial bill on welfare reform. The
Personal Responsibility Act is an attempt to overhaul the welfare system by
putting limits on eligibility and reducing dependency on government. This bill
addresses the increasing problem of illegitimacy, requires welfare recipients to
work, and caps welfare spending. Current programs will be consolidated, time
limits will be placed on benefits and savings are to go to deficit reduction.
The bill's main thrust is to give states greater control over the benefits
programs, work programs, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
payments and requirements.
Under the bill, the structure for AFDC payments will drastically change.
Mothers under the age of 18 may no longer receive AFDC payments for children
born out of wedlock and mothers who are ages 18, 19, and 20 can be prohibited by
the states from receiving AFDC payments and housing benefits. Mothers must also
establish paternity to as a condition for receiving AFDC payments, except in
cases of rape and incest and if the state determines that efforts to establish
paternity would result in physical danger to the mother. The bill requires
states to establish paternity in ninety percent of their cases. States are also
encouraged to develop procedures in public hospitals and clinics to determine
paternity and establish legal procedures that help pinpoint paternity in a
reasonable time period. Also, in order to reduce the amount of time families
are on welfare, states must begin moving welfare recipients into work programs
if they have received welfare for two years. States are given the option to
drop families from receiving AFDC benefits after they have received welfare for
two years if at least one year has been spent in a work program. States must
drop families from the program after they have received a total of five years of
AFDC benefits.
The bill allows states to design their own work programs and determine
who will be required to participate. Welfare recipients must work an average of
35 hours a week or enroll in work training programs. By the year 2001, 1.5
million AFDC recipients will be required to work.
The bill grants greater flexibility to states allowing them to design
their own work programs and determine who participates in them and can choose to
opt out of the current AFDC program by converting their share of AFDC payments
into fixed annual block grants.
The bill is also designed to diminish the number to teenage pregnancies
and illegitimate births. It prohibits AFDC payments and housing benefits to
mothers under age 18 who give birth to out-of-wedlock children. The state has
the option of extending this prohibition to mothers ages 18, 19, and 20. The
savings generated from this provision to deny AFDC to minor mothers is returned
to the states in the form of block grants to provide services to help these
young mothers who illegitimate children. The state will use the funds for
programs to reduce out of wedlock pregnancies, to promote adoption, to establish
and operate orphanages, to establish and operate residential group homes for
unwed mothers, or for any purpose the state deems appropriate. None of the
funds may be used for abortion services or abortion counseling.
The bill also includes a number of other provisions to reduce
illegitimacy. While AFDC is prohibited to mothers ages 17 and younger who have
children out of wedlock, mothers age 18 who give birth to illegitimate children
must live at home in order to receive aid. Mothers already receiving benefits
will not receive an increase if additional children are born out of wedlock.
States are allowed to establish their own work training and education
programs to help recipients move from the welfare program to paid employment as
soon as possible. The training programs require recipients to work for an
average of 35 hours a week or 30 hours a week plus five hours engages in job
search activities. One parent in a two parent family is required to work 32
hours a week plus eight hours of job searching.
As long as states meet the participation requirements, the federal
government will not advise other parts of the program. States will design their
own work programs and determine who will be required to participate in them.
Part of the participation requirement is requiring a certain number of
recipients to participate in the job program. Starting in 1996, 100,000 AFDC
recipients will be required to work; in 1997, 200,000 recipients will be
required; in 1998, 400,000 will be required; in 1999 600,000 recipients will be
required; in 2000, 900,000 will be required; and by 2001, 1.5 million recipients
will be required to work.
Identified non-parents, usually men, who receive food stamp benefits are
required to work eight hours a week for those benefits.
The bill caps the spending growth of AFDC, SSI and numerous public
housing programs, and the mandatory work program established under the bill. The
cap equals the amount spent the preceding year for these programs with an
adjustment for inflation plus growth in poverty population. The entitlement
status of these programs is ended. The bill also consolidates a number of
nutrition programs into a block grant to states funded in the first year at 95
percent of the aggregate amount of the individual programs. Programs
consolidated into the block grant include food stamps, the supplemental feeding
program, infants, children, and the school lunch and breakfast programs, among
others. Under the block grant, states will distribute food assistance to
economically disadvantaged individuals more freely.
To further reduce welfare spending, welfare assistance is denied to non-
citizens, except refugees over 75 years of age, those lawfully admitted to the
U.S., or those who have resided in the U.S. for at least five years. Emergency
medical assistance will continue to be provided to non-citizens.
The bill allows states to create their own work programs and determine
who participates in them. States can also opt our of the AFDC program and
convert their AFDC payments into a fixed annual block grant and have the option
to provide new residents AFDC benefits comparable to the level provided in the
state in which they previously resided. To help combat illiteracy, states may
reduce AFDC payments by up to $75 per month to mothers under the age of 21 who
have not completed high school or earned their high school "equivalency".
Payments may also be reduced if a dependent child does not maintain minimum
school attendance.
State adoption agencies are encouraged, under the bill, to decrease the
amount of time a child must wait to be adopted. Specifically, the bill
prohibits states from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national
origin when placing children for adoption.
AFDC beneficiaries who the state identifies as addicted to drugs or
alcohol must enroll in an addiction treatment program and participate in random
drug testing in order to continue receiving welfare benefits.
The bill is estimated to result in a net savings of approximately $40
billion over five years. The denial of welfare to non-citizens saves about $22
billion, the cap on welfare spending saves about $18 billion, the nutrition
block grant saves about $11 billion, and the requirement for paternity
establishment saves about $2 billion. The costs included in the bill are $9.9
billion for the work program and approximately $2 billion for miscellaneous
state options.
OK, personally, I don't see what the big fuss these whiny little
democrats are making over this bill. "You shouldn't be so hard on un-wed
teenage mothers." Well, lets think about this one. They're unwed, they're
teenage, and they're mothers. Not a good combination. The majority of women
on welfare had their first child as a teenager. Most of these births now occur
outside of marriage and are unintended. Actually, I don't think that we're
being hard enough. They're lucky to receive any benefits at all. If this were
my bill, payments to unwed teens would end altogether. It's ridiculous to have
a fifteen year old pregnant and out of school sitting at home sucking up
government dough. The government isn't punishing them. They've punished
themselves. If anything the government is giving these kids an incentive to be
more responsible. Welfare is a crutch. And people use it even after their
broken leg has healed.
And what about those who are not legitimately in this country?
Thousands upon thousands of immigrants enter this country each year, because
they know in America, they can receive benefits without even becoming a citizen.
This needs to end right now. American citizens hard at work each day should not
have to waste their tax dollars on the illegal Perez family from just over the
border who don't speak a word of English nor contribute any of their money to
this country. Illegal immigrants under no circumstance should receive any money
of any kind. They do not belong to this country nor do they contribute toward
it.
As I stated in Congress in Action, I work at Genovese. I make sixty-
five dollars a week. I SHOULD be making eighty, but fifteen dollars of my money
each week goes to the federal government to give to some illegal family or
single mother. I pay for this family's clothing. I pay for this family's food.
I pay for this family's home. But of course, my fifteen dollars a week is not
enough to pay for all of the family's expenses. So you, and your family have to
pay more money each year so that some other family doesn't have to. I'm
seventeen years old. I am going to an Ivy League university next year. I can't
afford to spend fifteen dollars on some illegal family in Texas or some single
irresponsible mother. And do you know what the tragic part is? This "family"
does not give a single dime back to the government. And for illegal immigrants,
that same government which gives them millions of OUR dollars a year, doesn't
even acknowledge that they exist. Somehow, THAT doesn't sound very fair to me.

And in fear or their payments ending, a great number of legal immigrants
have rushed to turn in their applications for U.S. citizenship. At no time in
history has the number of applicants for U.S. citizenship been so large. In Los
Angeles County alone, it's quadrupled in just two years. "In '94 I think we
were running about 75,000 applications a year. Last year, we ran about 175,000,
and we're looking at about 300,000 this year," says Richard Rogers, who works in
the Los Angeles branch of the Immigration and Naturalization service. Thanks to
The Personal Responsibility Act, hundreds of thousands more non-citizens are
applying to officially be a member of our country, and in turn contribute
towards it. Many crybaby liberals believe these "harsh" laws make non citizens
worry about their benefits. Good. If they don't give or do anything FOR our
government, they SHOULD worry if the government decides not to give them
anything. That worry is what pushes them to become a part of our nation, and be
a REAL, tax paying American citizens. Only until then can they at least expect
some benefits.
Limiting AFDC payment by $75 to those who haven't completed high school
or gained a high school equivalency seemed way liberal to me. High school drop-
out is one of the big reasons for the enormous about of money welfare consumes
each year. If you don't have at least a high school education, you will find it
tough to land a job that will support yourself, let alone a family as well.
School keeps kids off of the streets, and out of trouble with drugs, sex and
pregnancies- things that will run them right out of school and right onto the
welfare payroll. Democrats love making a big sob story out of welfare
"victims." It makes me truly sick. Want to hear a sob story? Me hardly seeing
my family for four years because I was too busy studying, and involving myself
in the school and community, bettering other's lives, so that I may improve
myself as a person, go on to a good school, and make a success of myself. And
the federal government didn't give me a cent. They shouldn't have to. So if I
shouldn't get paid for doing more than what I am have to, or am supposed to do,
why should some pregnant, crackhead, sixteen year old girl get paid every week
for doing what she's NOT supposed to do? There's a sob story.
And spare me the argument that drug addicts are victims deserving a
safety net, or that at least their children are. That mentality, in
psychological circles is called "enabling"-making it possible for chronically
maladjusted people to indulge their self destructive behavior at the expense of
themselves and others. What "enabling" actually does is help destroy the people
you ought to be trying to aid. It is irresponsible. Stop and think. You have
people on welfare who are drug addicts. You give them cash. What do you think
happens? They buy drugs. If there is any money left they MAY (1 in a million
chance) use it as intended. If not, they fall back on their main means for
scoring. This means stealing or selling their bodies to get more of a fix, or
just to survive and make ends meet. This is how it really is on the streets for
those welfare recipients who are also drug addicts. So why not do them a favor
and say you can't be a drug addict and a welfare recipient at the same time.
Being an addict doesn't necessarily mean you are a complete idiot. A
substantial percentage of them aren't happy about their addictions, but they
need a big push to break their dependency cycle. The dumbest thing in the world
is to give an addict cash. So why should our welfare system do that in the name
of doing good? Why not make it universally clear that welfare benefits will
only go to people who, among other things, can pass a drug test at the time of
application, and at random periods thereafter? Why shouldn't welfare policy
discourage drug addiction? God knows that we can't rely on the President,
seeing as how the public has re-elected a man whose first presidency showed a
doubling of teen drug use, as well as a leader who admitted to smoking pot and
said he would do it again. Cutting off welfare to those with a drug addiction
has nothing to do with individual liberties. The individual is free to choose
between continuing addiction or continuing welfare.
And as for the time restraint..why is it even 5 years that they can stay
on AFDC? One is quite sufficient. Do you know how long it took me to get my
job at Genovese??? Five days, not five years! And I am not even out of high
school. It pays above minimum wage, the full time benefits are excellent, there
is not a single reason why welfare recipients could not hold a job such as that.
Yet year after year we continue to find them at home waiting for Bob the mailman
to deliver their welfare check. Pathetic. That is the only work to describe it.
No, perhaps pathetic and sickening.
And are we forgetting something? There exists something called the
TENTH AMENDMENT!! Those powers not given to Congress, nor specifically
enumerated, are reserved for the states and respectfully to the people. The
powers specifically enumerated to Congress are found in Article I Section 8 of
the Constitution. The only facet of this Article that the most loose
construction liberal mind MIGHT be able to construe as a reason for increasing
welfare is that "The Congress shall have Power to....provide for the common
Defense and general Welfare of the United States." Providing for the general
welfare of America means ensure that it's citizen's lives are protected, not
spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the welfare system. Welfare is not a
responsibility of the federal government. It is one of the states, or
respectively, the people.. The American voters sent a clear message on that
November 8th of 1994. They want to see a positive change in government. Many
of these same voters are pointing a finger at welfare as a perfect example of
big government at work wasting taxpayer money. Congress was able to push
through to legislation that greatly enhances the fight against the welfare trap.
Yet it is not the end of the war. There are still several more battles to go
until we may sign a peace treaty.

 

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