Welfare System Reform – Government (300 Level Course)

Welfare System Reform – Government (300 Level Course)

While the welfare system may be costly to taxpayers, it gives many youths an opportunity to overcome their predestined poverty. Welfare punishes any child that is born into it. The Republican’s proposal seeks to change the Welfare program, if passed; it would effect the lives of the youth from poverty stricken families.

From a governmental standpoint, it should not be their responsibility to support illegitimate children with welfare checks. This dilemma deals mainly with sexual conduct presently practiced.

Robert L. Woodson, Sr., writes that welfare and the majority of the issues in the United States today, “[A]re matters of behavior, the results of choices made in the absence of a clear set of guiding values”(19). Marge Roukema, a Republican Congresswoman from New Jersey, continues, “We need welfare reform based on the notion of individual responsibility”(320).

By supplying single mothers with welfare checks, the government is acknowledging that illegitimate children are fine and that the will provide for these kids. Charles Krauthammer states, “[T]he only realistic way to attack this cycle of illegitimacy and its associated pathologies is by cutting off the oxygen that sustains the system. Stop the welfare checks”(101). This solution would place the responsibility of providing for the child directly on the mother and father. Krauthammer continues, “Taking [welfare checks] away is the single most immediate and direct measure that government can take to break the cycle of illegitimacy and dependency”(102). Some states have instituted a family cap. La Donna A. Pavetti writes, “Under the cap a woman already receiving welfare will not receive additional financial help if she gives birth to another child”(3).

This will allow the government to control who should and should not receive the benefits. The family cap presently exists in various forms in 22 states. Lucie White describes the goal of welfare reform, “[T]o provide strong incentives for recipient families to become self-sufficient, producing all of their income through waged work alone”(120). This view sees reform as a way to help participants of the welfare program to become self-supporting.

Welfare Reform would stop wages to all families after five years; this may consequently destroy family life for some people. Mimi Abramovitz writes, “Welfare critics sat AFDC causes families to break up because the program for single parents sometimes leads men to move out so their families can survive”(36-37). This plan would cut childcare funding, which is a necessity to those individuals who are trying to get a job. William J. Coyne, a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania, states, “The legislation will result in America’s poor children being left alone”(323). Walter Shapiro continues, “Taking somebody who wasn’t a worker and turning them into a steady worker takes time”(12).

Employment, another issue in the Welfare debate, also designates the victims as the children. The Republican proposal seeks that any able worker must work in order to receive their benefits. George E. Brown, Jr., a Democratic Congressman from California, writes, “There are many on public assistance who work hard every day for wages that are simply too low to allow them to rise above the poverty level”(324). The Reform plan would require that 50 percent of the people on Welfare must be working. It is a tough task for people to afford apt housing, if they live below the poverty level. The Center for Budget Policy Priorities conducted a survey, that concluded, “60 percent of poor renter households spend over half their income on housing”(3). The money, which the people earn from working, won’t even allow them to pay for suitable childcare.

Consequently, the bill will prevent mothers from seeking jobs. The proposal will “cut Federal funds,” according to Congressman Coyne, “for child care by 25 percent in the year 2000. This means that over 400,000 fewer children will receive Federal childcare assistance. Pennsylvania alone will lose $25.7 million in Federal care assistance funding by the year 2000. That means that over 15,000 children in Pennsylvania will be denied Federal assistance for safe childcare”(323).

Welfare Reform may prevent a person from rising above one’s financial troubles. The bill will allow each state to cease benefits to a family after two years. Also it will require the state to stop funding after five years. Therefore after five years, participants will not receive any benefits and be forced to find a job in the working world, a place unfamiliar to them. Maxine Waters, a Democratic Congresswoman from California, explains, “We are talking about people, some of whom were born into situations through no choice of their own that keeps them locked into the cycle of poverty, and there have been no real guidelines, rules by which they can get out of the cycle of poverty”(327). Children will be effected the most by a parent, whose benefits have been terminated. George J. Duncan writes, “New restrictions will increase the number of extremely poor families and put the very youngest children at risk”(67).

While cutting welfare to mothers with illegitimate children may seem fair to taxpayers; it is denying underprivileged youths a chance to improve their economic status. The children are not the ones to blame; yet they are the ones punished. Teresa McCrary, a welfare mom, states, “[M]otherhood is a career in itself”(103). A mother has a responsibility to care for her child, yet cutting off her welfare would force her to find a job. Taking a job would conflict with her responsibility to her child. McCrary writes, “Minimum wage will not pay for housing costs, health care, child care, transportation and work clothes that an untrained uneducated woman needs to support even one child”(103). The future for welfare for single mothers is in jeopardy. Mothers on welfare want to get off, but there are not many options for them. David Zucchino describes the situation of a welfare mother named Elaine, “She needed to be there for them. They didn’t need a baby-sitter, she thought. They needed their mother”(30). Another problem that faces single mothers is child support. Geraldine Jensen states, “Nonpayment of child support is a crime that causes poverty in America. Certainly with welfare reform children are going to be even more at risk”(5). Robert Scheer explains, “Perhaps the Republicans will create jobs by lowering the minimum wage. But jobs or no jobs, the Republicans plan to kick the poor off welfare after two years”(111).

The Welfare program was set up to help those families who need financial assistance. It was not created for people to depend on it. The Republican’s proposal would cut off benefits to those parents who truly need it. While cutting off welfare to single mothers may be an issue to taxpayers, many feel that the real issue is the innocent children that are punished as a result.

Works Cited
Abramovitz, Mimi. Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare
in the United States. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1996.
Archer, Bill, Hon., Marge Roukema, Hon., and Michael Collins,
Hon. “Welfare Reform: Pro.” Reading and Writing Across
the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen.
New York: Longman, 1997. 317-22.
Center for Budget Policy Priorities. “Crisis in Low-Income
Rental Housing.” America 4 July 1998: 3.
Coyne, William J., Hon., George E. Brown, Hon., and Maxine
Waters. “Welfare Reform: Con.” Reading and Writing Across
the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen.
New York: Longman, 1997. 323-27.
Duncan, Greg, J. “Welfare’s New Rules: A Pox on Children.”
Issues in Science and Technology Winter 1997-98: 67-72.
Jensen, Geraldine. “Deadbeat Parents Leave Kids in Poverty.”
USA Today 22 April 1999: A5.
Krauthammer, Charles. “Subsidized Illegitimacy.” Reading and
Writing Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and
Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Longman, 1997. 101-3.
McCrary, Teresa. “Getting Off the Welfare Carousel.” Reading and
Writing Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence Behrens and
Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Longman, 1997. 103-5.
Pavetti, La Donna A. “Welfare Reform’s Darker Side.” America 19
September 1998: 3.
Scheer, Robert. “Newt’s Welfare: Think of It as a Homeless
Drill.” Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum. Ed.
Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. New York: Longman, 1997. 109-11.
Shapiro, Walter. “Turning Welfare Into Work: Do This Job Right.”
USA Today 17 May 1996: A12.
Woodson, Robert L., Sr. “Government Can’t Cure Poverty.” USA
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White, Lucie, ed. and Joel F. Handler, ed. Hard Labor: Women and
Work in the Post-Welfare Era. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1999.
Zucchino, David. Myth of the Welfare Queen. New York: Scribner,