As President Donald Trump juggles a myriad of issues within the White House he has added one more: entitlement reform. Trump has set his sights on overhauling the safety net system and issued an executive order on Monday directing federal agencies to promote employment and instill work requirements for those receiving public assistance.
“Unfortunately, many of the programs designed to help families have instead delayed economic independence, perpetuated poverty, and weakened family bonds. While bipartisan welfare reform enacted in 1996 was a step toward eliminating the economic stagnation and social harm that can result from long-term Government dependence, the welfare system still traps many recipients, especially children, in poverty and is in need of further reform and modernization in order to increase self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility.”
“The federal government should do everything within its authority to empower individuals by providing opportunities for work, including by investing in federal programs that are effective at moving people into the workforce and out of poverty.”
Director of the Trump Administration’s domestic policy council Andrew Bremberg said, “Welfare reform is necessary to prosperity and independence,” after the order was signed. He also highlighted the the success of similar entitlement reform policy changes that were signed by former president Bill Clinton in 1996, requiring American receiving cash assistance to be employed or being seeking employment.
The move from President trump is just latest step in the White House’s effort to eliminate the economic stagnation and social harm that generation poverty can cause by relying solely on public assistance. The executive order will also direct agencies to review all waivers and mandates that deal with work requirements.
A 90-day period will now commence for agencies to recommend policy and regulatory changes to assistance programs.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began allowing states to mandate that certain Medicaid enrollees must work for the first time in the program’s history. Similar legislation currently being debated in the Virginia General Assembly will also require recipients of Medicaid to work or be enrolled in school. Though, there are a new exemptions for those who are elderly, children, pregnant women, and others who are not deemed “able bodied.”
Furthermore, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking to strengthen work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps. The program currently requires childless adults to be employed.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is looking into similar work requirements for those in subsidized housing.
The executive order outlines nine “Principles of Economic Mobility,” which are congruent with longstanding conservative Republican ideals.
“(i) Improve employment outcomes and economic independence (including by strengthening existing work requirements for work-capable people and introducing new work requirements when legally permissible):
(ii) Promote strong social networks as a way of sustainably escaping poverty (including through work and marriage);
(iii) Address the challenges of populations that may particularly struggle to find and maintain employment (including single parents, formerly incarcerated individuals, the homeless, substance abusers, individuals with disabilities, and disconnected youth);
(iv) Balance flexibility and accountability both to ensure that State, local, and tribal governments, and other institutions, may tailor their public assistance programs to the unique needs of their communities and to ensure that welfare services and administering agencies can be held accountable for achieving outcomes (including by designing and tracking measures that assess whether programs help people escape poverty);
(v) Reduce the size of bureaucracy and streamline services to promote the effective use of resources;
(vi) Reserve benefits for people with low incomes and limited assets;
(vii) Reduce wasteful spending by consolidating or eliminating Federal programs that are duplicative or ineffective;
(viii) Create a system by which the Federal Government remains updated on State, local, and tribal successes and failures, and facilitates access to that information so that other States and localities can benefit from it; and
(ix) Empower the private sector, as well as local communities, to develop and apply locally based solutions to poverty.”
Unemployment rates are near record-lows, holding at 4.1 percent since September last year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Therefore, considering employers are looking to hire, the president’s policy experts believe it is a sufficient time to roll out new enforcement guidelines that involve the expansion of work requirements.
The main aim of the program is to bolster employment rates among “childless men,” a demographic that has risen in recipients to assistance programs in recent years.