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Research Archive

February 28, 2024

Reform the Safety Net to Counter the Economic Challenges Facing Women Considering Abortion

Chairman Whitehouse, Ranking Member Grassley, and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Leslie Ford and I am an Adjunct Fellow in the Center for Opportunity and Social Mobility at the American Enterprise Institute. My research focuses on vulnerable families in our safety net and pathways out of poverty to…

October 31, 2023

Lawmakers Continue Trying to Revive Pandemic-Style Benefits

In 2008, Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff to President-elect Barack Obama, famously issued Rahm’s rule: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” Lawmakers applied Rahm’s rule liberally during the pandemic, providing record stimulus…

July 28, 2023

It Really Is More Expensive to Give Everyone $1 Than to Give Some People $1

In a piece from last year, Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project argues (in the title of the piece) “Universal Benefits Cost Less Than Means-Tested Benefits.” He lays out his central claim in the following passage: Korpi and Palme accept the idea that, for a given welfare budget, targeted programs reduce inequality and poverty more than…

July 25, 2023

Not Just Tulsa

Earlier this month, an Oklahoma judge ruled that the City of Tulsa cannot be held legally or financially responsible for the actions of the violent mob that burned down the city’s Greenwood section, known as the Black Wall Street, in 1921. Three survivors of that murderous riot will not, it appears, receive compensation. Despite their disappointment, the…

June 16, 2023

The Missing Context Behind “Cuts” in Fast-Growing Welfare Programs

Official Washington just completed a heated debate on the debt limit, punctuated by intense partisan differences over strengthening work requirements for key welfare programs. On one side stood House Republicans, who on April 26 approved legislation that would have strengthened work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (dubbed “ABAWDs”) collecting major welfare benefits like food stamps and…

June 8, 2023

Work Improves Mental Health

Since President Joe Biden signed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (FRA) into law, countless news stories have detailed how thousands of low-income Americans will be negatively impacted by new work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). A narrow work requirement has long existed in SNAP, but changes in the FRA raised the age of SNAP’s…

May 31, 2023

Ending the Small Checks Scam

It’s no secret that strengthening work requirements for key welfare benefits has been a flashpoint in the debt limit negotiations. House Republicans, led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), insisted on including stronger work requirements in any agreement that raises the debt limit. Meanwhile President Joe Biden vacillated. At first, he noted his past support for work requirements and seemed open…

May 23, 2023

Will Biden Cross a Line on Poverty?

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences seeks to redefine poverty. The NAS presents the effort as a matter of science: “An accurate measure of poverty is necessary to fully understand how the economy is performing across all segments of the population and to assess the effects of government policies on communities and families.” But…

May 23, 2023

The White House Defender of Welfare Work Requirements

If someone asked you to name a US President who also was a longtime defender of work requirements for welfare benefits, whom might you guess? Ronald Reagan? Donald Trump? George W. Bush? These are good thoughts, but contrary to popular wisdom the answer is a Democrat. That might make you guess Bill Clinton, who signed…

May 3, 2023

Work-for-Welfare Gains Traction Among Republicans

Last week, U.S. House Republicans included expanded work requirements for Medicaid, food stamps, and cash welfare benefits in their legislation to extend the federal debt limit. As employers continue to struggle to find workers, states, too, are trying to prod benefit recipients on the sidelines of the economy back into work. Republican members of the Wisconsin assembly recently approved a…