Vice President for Family Income Support Policy
Several recent studies counter the Council of Economic Advisers’ (CEA) recent claims that proposals to take away people’s SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, or housing assistance if they don’t meet rigid work requirements would “be a beneficial way to increase work participation among non-disabled working-age adults receiving assistance from non-cash welfare programs.” Those studies also cast real doubt that work requirements will boost employment.
That’s because the CEA report mischaracterizes several highly regarded academic studies, ignores the realities of the low-wage labor market, and paints a misleading picture of basic assistance programs, the people they serve, and the ability of proposals that take away people’s basic assistance to increase work.
Contrary to CEA claims, multiple recent studies find that many people who are most likely to need assistance from programs to help them meet their basic needs are workers, but the low-wage labor market is characterized by job volatility, higher unemployment, and less job stability.
Data from Arkansas’ first month with Medicaid work requirements show that they create bureaucratic barriers for individuals who already work or qualify for an exemption, and they do little to encourage work.
Finally, the Niskanen Center described the CEA’s case for work requirements as “unconvincing.”