Congress Should Strengthen Work Requirements for Welfare Beneficiaries

PRESS RELEASE
August 22, 2018
Washington, DC

Republicans, including President Trump, have long called for strong welfare reform, including work requirements. As the House and Senate work through the conference negotiations on the 2018 Farm Bill, we urge conferees to maintain a policy of conditioning benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, to limited work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs).

According to the Heritage Foundation, the ABAWD caseload for SNAP benefits has more than doubled over the past decade, rising from 1.9 million in 2008 to 4.2 million today. Spending on the program has also doubled in the last decade to approximately $73 billion annually.

Though limited work requirements exist in current law, the amount of state waivers in place has rendered them effectively meaningless. Given this, as well as the fiscal and policy benefits associated with work requirements for ABAWDs, we urge conferees to give this policy due consideration.

Previous work requirement initiatives, specifically those added to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, have been successful at expediting the return of assistance recipients to the workforce, and removing incentives that discourage individuals from seeking full-time employment. According to the National Taxpayers Union, these reforms have been associated with higher incomes, declining child poverty, and an increased number of single women in the workforce.

Moreover, in places where these policies have been tried, they have succeeded. In July 2014, Maine announced it would no longer grant waivers from work requirements for ABAWDs. In a few months, Maine’s ABAWD caseload dropped 80 percent, with many individuals choosing to be removed from the SNAP rolls rather than participate in work programs.

According to analysis by the Heritage Foundation, policies similar to Maine’s could save taxpayers nearly $10 billion per year. Not only is this sound fiscal policy, it encourages individuals to take ownership of their own futures – the first step toward a successful welfare-to-work outcome. Americans understand this. In 2012, a Rasmussen poll found that 83 percent of American adults supported work requirements in exchange for welfare benefits.

Congress has a chance to make significant reforms to our welfare system that have a positive fiscal impact, while helping individuals make meaningful progress toward independence. We urge the Farm Bill conferees to include sound policy of work requirements for SNAP benefits.

The Honorable Edwin Meese III
Former Attorney General
President Ronald Reagan

 
The Honorable Bob McEwen
U.S. House of Representatives
Former Member, Ohio
 
William L. Walton
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Former Chief Domestic Advisor
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Campaign for the American Future
 
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Exective
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Former Representative
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Florida State House
 
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President
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Christian Speaker
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Homemaker
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Alfred S. Regnery
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U.S. Senate
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Former Communications Director
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Former Dean
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Former Assistant Attorney General, President Ronald Reagan
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Business Owner
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Former Budget Director
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Former Majority Leader
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American-Chinese Fellowship of Houston
 
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President, National Federation of Republican Assemblies
 

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