Welfare reform turns 20 this week

Monday marked the 20th anniversary of former President Bill Clinton signing the  Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act – Welfare Reform.

Focuses shifted and a lot changed from that. But did it work?

On Monday, Ohio Governor John Kasich penned an op-ed for The New York Times: “20 Years After Reform, Welfare Is Still Broken.”

He certainly makes some excellent points, noting frustration many caseworkers and participants can feel, especially as many recipients are treated as numbers. However, the idea that “a job is the best anti-poverty program” overlooks the very real problem that many of our jobs are too low wage for Ohio’s families to really accrue any savings or assets – get ahead at all. Additionally, the evidence doesn’t necessarily back up the job conviction.

Interestingly enough, many states can choose not to spend their welfare dollars on education or job programs.

Recently, NPR’s Marketplace has ran the first season of their new podcast: The Uncertain Hour. It’s an in-depth look in seven episodes of welfare reform. A highly recommended podcast, it features lots of information about an incredibly divisive topic in the United States – one that few people, quite actually, really understand.

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