Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work requirements grow, so does one family’s desperation.

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The Trump administration is using Wisconsin as a model, but hopeful statistics belie the continuing struggles of low-income families trying to meet increasing standards for public assistance.

Image: Washington Post

The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare.

The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side.

That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance.

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Stamping Out Hunger…No Stomping on Hunger!!!

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I lived in the woods north of Santa Cruz, CA. for part of the summer in 1978.  The rest of those five or six months (it was California) I either lived on the beaches north of the town or was on the road.  Living was cheap and living was easy.  Mostly, my friends and I had to stay a couple steps ahead of the cops and away from the straight and rich white folks.  We weren’t alone in that.  I lived off of fifty bucks worth of food stamps per month and money I made doing odd jobs.

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Image: ABC11

Then it was off to the grocery store and then back to the camp in the woods or on the beach.  Since fifty dollars didn’t really cover a person’s food costs even then (and even though we ate lots of beans, rice, cheese and potatoes), we usually pooled our resources with other folks living in the encampments, conjuring up some dandy meals of the aforementioned foods.  Spices can work wonders, as any cook knows.

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A “failed policy based on failed research”: The destructive legacy of Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform act

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Twenty years ago last week, President Bill Clinton signed a historic welfare reform bill formally known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.

Image: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

 With this legislation, Clinton promised to “end welfare as we know it.” Ten years ago, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times declaring it a success. Now, 20 years on, the transformation of the welfare system is complete, but the question remains: What kind of transformation has it been, and what has it meant for poor families in the U.S.?

A new report from the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at the University of California Berkeley finds that some key provisions have not only failed poor families, but exacerbated poverty, increased instability and worsened health outcomes for the families involved.

Let’s start with some important history. As of 1996, the year that the American welfare system was “reformed,” the existing welfare program, called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), had been in place for 61 years. It was a relatively simple program — if you were poor and you had children, you were eligible for a welfare check from the government. It began in 1935 through the Social Security Act part of the New Deal, and was amended in 1962 under the Kennedy administration.

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House GOP seeks cuts in food stamps

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Image: Reuters

New independent estimates Monday night show that as many as 3.8 million people would lose their food stamp benefits in 2014 under a House Republican plan to tighten eligibility and end state waivers for able-bodied adults who are unemployed.

The Congressional Budget Office numbers paint a darker picture than the GOP has admitted to thus far. The contradictions – which continued to play out Monday afternoon — add to the tensions surrounding what is already a bitter fight over the nutrition title of the House farm bill.

According to the CBO, 1.7 million people would be forced off the rolls in the coming year if the state waivers are repealed as proposed by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Another 2.1 million would be dropped in 2014 as a result of the tighter eligibility rules backed by the GOP.

In both cases, the impact would decline as the economy improves and more jobs become available. But on average, CBO estimates that a total of 2.8 million people would lose their benefits over the next decade, and another 850,000 households will see an average reduction of about $90 a month in benefits….

As filed Monday, the measure is titled the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act and is being billed as Welfare Reform 2.0.

The stated goal is to toughen existing work requirements for food stamps while also preserving the core program for the very poor. Cantor consulted with conservatives before crafting the package and the Heritage Foundation, with close ties to Cantor’s policy staff, is an important ally and influence.

Caught in the middle are states like Washington and New York which are already using federal funds to teach job skills to food stamp recipients but could lose millions in aid if they were to fail to comply with the new direction set by the bill.

Mothers with preschool children would face tougher work requirements. At the same time, the CBO score suggests that some of the most-contentious pilot programs in the package could end up adding to federal costs — not savings.

More from David Rogers@ Politico

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Newt Alleges Welfare Conspiracy, Calls Obama ‘The Anti-Clinton’

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Newt Alleges Welfare Conspiracy, Calls Obama ‘The Anti-Clinton’

Newt Gingrich accused President Obama on Wednesday of a secret “radical” plot to end work requirements in welfare reform, brushing aside denials from both the Republican architect of the 1996 bill and the Democratic president who signed it into law.

“I think on the hard left, there is an unending desire to create a dependent America,” Gingrich said.

“It’s not just that Obama is a radical, it’s that the people he appoints are more radical,” he said.” Gingrich also accused Secretary of Health and Human Service Kathleen Sebelius of lying when she pledged to veto state requests to water down work requirements in welfare.

Gingrich joined Mitt Romney and other Republican leaders in contrasting former President Bill Clinton, whom they now hold up as a model of bipartisanship, with Obama.

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