A key misunderstood element of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget plan is his proposed cut in spending for "other mandatory" programs -- non-discretionary programs other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs. His plan shows almost $1.9 trillion in cuts in such programs over the next ten years compared to what President Obama's budget proposed for such programs.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan said yesterday that his budget aims to begin "welfare reform, round two." According to Chairman Ryan, "That means block-granting means-tested entitlements -- like food stamps, like housing assistance -- back to the states so they can customize these benefits, have time limits, work requirements, the kinds of successful policies that made welfare reform so successful."
Many policymakers see the 1996 welfare law's creation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as a major success and cite TANF's structure -- a block grant with fixed federal funding but broad state flexibility-- as a model for other safety net programs.
But when we analyzed state-by-state data to examine how well states have maintained TANF's role as a safety net, the results were sobering. TANF now provides a safety net for relatively few poor families with children.
Contrary to claims that government benefit programs are creating a dependent class of Americans who are losing the desire to work and would rather collect government benefits than find a job, a major report we issued today finds that these programs' benefits go overwhelmingly to people who are elderly, disabled, or members of working households.
In my blog post this week for US News & World Report, I highlight CBPP's recent analyses of safety net programs and explain why the rise in spending on most of these programs during the Great Recession and subsequent slow recovery is an important feature of them, not a sign of something amiss:
Mitt Romney said last week that if the safety net "needs a repair, I'll fix it." It does need some repair, as our recent blog series explained. That is, the safety net works but still has some serious gaps.
The House may soon consider two bills (H.R. 3576 and H.R. 3580) that would limit federal spending to levels similar to those in the budget of Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that the House passed last April.
As you may have heard, Mitt Romney said this morning, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I'll fix it." We're glad the governor is expressing support for a safety net and for fixing it if it needs repair. Yet his own budget proposals would tear gaping holes in the safety net and damage it severely. Consider the following: