The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act


Some never relent in efforts to blame and punish the poor for their difficulties. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) writes:

The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act addresses deep problems in the federal government’s welfare programs that make it more difficult for low-income Americans to work their way into the middle class and stay there.  This bill would get existing federal welfare programs under control and would help the working poor transition from poverty to opportunity and security. How it works:

  • Strengthens work requirements for all able bodied, work-capable adults receiving SNAP benefits.
    • 36 hours per month for individuals without dependents;
    • 72 hours per month for individuals or couples with dependents;
  • Incentivizes states to comply with work requirements through a phased–in performance measurement system.
    • Rewards states with a grant equal to ¼ of the savings
    • Penalizes states by diminishing funding over time for not meeting requirements
  • Requires the federal government to report all means-tested welfare spending, including state and local governments, and report estimated levels over the next decade
  • Phases in a cap on total means-tested welfare spending that is adjusted yearly with inflation
    • Phased in to 2007 levels over 3 years

What it does (according to Mike Lee):

  • Restores and improves work incentives for individuals and families
  • Improves state administration of welfare programs
  • Incentivizes states to transition beneficiaries from welfare to work
  • Creates greater transparency in means-tested welfare spending
  • Saves $2.5 trillion over 10 years

This bill is misnamed — it has nothing to do with welfare reform or upward mobility. It is all about saving money and would do nothing to end poverty. It is based on myths:

  • Unemployed people could find work if they tried.
  • Means testing is justified.
  • States should be squeezed to reduce spending.

This bill is not reform, but a return to the discredited welfare system of the past where a legion of case workers made sure people were looking for work, that they didn’t have unreported income, and that benefits were cut off as soon as their was a hint of hope in a persons life.  Nor does it promote upward mobility — it is punitive rather than helpful; it pushes people down rather than help them up. In short, this bill represents compulsion — people should be forced to work, states should be forced to reduce spending, people should be cut off from benefits as soon as they find work.

Mike Lee’s views are similar to Tom Reed’s — Reed also would cut benefits to force persons to become independent, to work or go without. However, I know of no evidence that suggests that cutting off benefits constitutes reform, creates jobs, or promotes upward mobility.

  • Our goal ought to be to end poverty, not force more into destitution.
  • We spend too little on hunger and homelessness.
  • We keep people poor by cutting off benefits prematurely.

There is no way to end poverty without spending money, however money spent would be well spent.  Poverty leads to expensive medical problems; it is difficult for hungry kids to learn.  We have plenty of food; there is no reason that anyone, particularly a child, should have to worry if there will be anything to eat tomorrow.

© William Hungerford – February 2014

The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
This entry was posted in Congress, Constituents, Economics, Education, Farm Bill, Health Care, Political, Reed's Views and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act

  1. solodm says:

    Bravo! Well said.


  2. BOB McGILL says:

    BUT,BUT, BUT, even the supporters of this program say the economy is improving and the number of people needing SNAP are in decline. So maybe a 1% cut is justified. Why continue with a surplus when it is not needed ? I forgot you just like to bitch !!!!!!! 🙂


  3. whungerford says:

    Cutting the budget in anticipation of declining need is premature. If the need declines and the money isn’t spent, we all ought rejoice. Penalizing states for not cutting spending regardless of need is a much different concept. Penalizing the poor for being unable to afford necessities is cruel.


  4. BOB McGILL says:

    By Jennifer Liberto @CNNMoney January 30, 2014: 10:54 AM ET

    Congress plans to change the formula state officials use to calculate food stamp benefits, essentially ending something called a “heat and eat” maneuver, which families encounter when they go to automatically enroll in food stamps and federal energy help. The move essentially ended up paying some families more than they would have otherwise gotten.

    Under the new farm bill, nothing changes for families who get more than $20 a year in federal heating assistance. Congressional aides say the new changes end an unfair maneuver by states to inflate benefits for the poor families claiming heating bills they don’t have. Aides say the changes will help strengthen the food stamps program and protect it from further cuts in the future.
    Seems there is always two sides to every story. 🙂


  5. whungerford says:

    The Foodbank of the Southern Tier says “Heat or Eat? an impossible choice.” I would say it is a cruel choice. There may be two sides to every story. Tom Reed always neglects to mention one side. In this case, there is a reasonable side and a heartless side.


  6. BOB McGILL says:

    Tell that to the Democrats that supported the cut.
    At this point, the food stamps deal appears to have support of key lawmakers, including agriculture chief Sen. Debbie Stabenow and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

    “I don’t like the fact we went further on the cuts, but that’s over 10 years,” Hoyer said on C-Span on Sunday. “It’s not as bad as it could have been and much better than I would have expected.”


  7. BOB McGILL says:

    By the way, my sister has been disabled since 1979. She was on Social Security and got food stamps. She was also about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed about 230 pounds. Even her dogs and cats didn’t starve !!!!!!!!! 🙂


  8. Barbara Griffin says:

    There may be some exceptions, but I suspect that most disabled people would much prefer being physically and mentally healthy enough to compete in the work force, support themselves, and not depend on government social programs. Bob, I rather doubt that your sister has been rolling in the dough. As to her weight, boxed macaroni and cheese is far less expensive than a tossed salad. It’s a sad day when this country can afford foreign wars, billion dollar killing machines, corporate subsidies for billion dollar companies, and can’t provide food and warmth for our less fortunate.


  9. BOB McGILL says:

    anticipation ? The declining numbers are real ! Because of the recession of 2008 SNAP benefits were increased, now they are just lowering them back to the 2008 pre recession numbers as the need and unemployment decline !


  10. BOB McGILL says:

    actually she was having pizza DELIVERED. She also owned her own house and grant money and the County Weatherization fixed it up ! I think one of the local churches put a pile of money into the house too. You don’t know what you are talking about !!!!!!


  11. BOB McGILL says:

    you should watch my neighbor. There is a 6 foot fence around her yard and she does all kinds of things when she thinks no one can see her. Next minute she limps around and plays cripple in public.


  12. solodm says:

    I thought you didn’t like people like the NSA spying you, but it’s OK to spy on your neighbor? Being a peeping tom makes you not very credible, and a little bit sick.


  13. BOB McGILL says:

    Yep, she tryed to run me over with her car, threatened to throw gas on me and set me on fire and a number of other things. Seems her recreational use of prescription drugs gets the best of her. So I have security cameras on my home and have used them to file charges against her many times. Another case of a druggie on welfare.


  14. BOB McGILL says:

    Do you remember not long ago they started tracking prescription drugs on line ? This person was seeing a half dozen different doctors and getting a prescription from each one. The cops picked her up one night and she had 30 bottles of drugs on her. Another one of your “poor” in need of SNAP. 🙂


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