The vast majority of Americans favor work requirements for welfare recipients, a new Rasmussen survey reveals.
According to the survey data, released last Wednesday, “83% of American Adults favor a work requirement as a condition for receiving welfare assistance. Just seven percent (7%) oppose such a requirement, while 10% are undecided.”
Similarly, a Heritage Foundation survey from 2009 shows that nearly all respondents agreed that able-bodied adults who receive cash, food, housing, and medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving those government benefits. The outcomes were nearly identical across party lines, with 96 percent of Democrats and 97 percent of Republicans agreeing with this statement. (Survey data available upon request.)
Even during his 2008 presidential campaign Obama himself expressed support for work requirements. But apparently he’s changed his mind, and now he’s pushing everyone to go along with him, even if it means bypassing Congress.
Just over a week ago, the Obama Administration issued a directive from the Department of Health and Human Services that guts the successful 1996 welfare reform law of its work requirement. Essentially, the Administration’s policy allows states to waive the work requirement, which says states must have at least 50 percent of their caseloads working or preparing for work in order to receive federal welfare dollars.
When the reform was put into place, the work requirement—and nearly all parts of the law—was protected from waivers. However, the Administration has sidestepped these provisions to unjustifiably push its preferred policies.
The 1996 reform restructured welfare around the principle of personal responsibility and, by doing so, helped millions of Americans out of government dependence. Because of the work requirement, welfare caseloads declined by nearly 50 percent within five years as recipients left the rolls for jobs, and child poverty declined significantly. It is little wonder that most Americans favor this type of policy.
By gutting welfare reform of its work requirement, the Obama Administration severely threatens its success and hinders individuals from achieving self-reliance. Rather than demolishing the very element that made welfare reform so successful, policymakers should strengthen work requirements to ensure that those in need are not left to languish on the government dole but instead receive assistance to achieve independence.