Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act Can Restart Welfare Reform

In May 2016, Senator Mike Lee (R–UT) and Representative Jim Jordan (R–OH) introduced the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act. This legislation takes a number of significant steps towards reforming the nation’s massive and broken welfare system, which is fraught with out-of-control spending, fraud, anti-work policies, and marriage penalties.

Today the majority of work-eligible TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients are completely idle, neither working nor preparing for work. Part of the reason for the high rates of “idleness” on TANF rolls is that states are taking advantage of loopholes that allow them to fulfill the work requirement without actually having to move recipients into work activity.

Overall, states engage fewer than one in five TANF recipients in activities designed to increase employment, improve skills, or reduce dependence. The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act strengthens TANF’s work requirement by focusing directly on the idle half of the caseload. It requires constructive activity by recipients who are currently idle. Addressing the many problems in the means-tested welfare system is a long-term effort. The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act sets the course and takes impressive strides toward that end.

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