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Federal Welfare Passes the 100 Million Recipients Mark

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Recent word from the Republican members of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee that more than 100 million people are now receiving some form of federal welfare – and that figure excludes people receiving Social Security or Medicare benefits.

When welfare becomes a way of life for one-third of America while the present administration weakens welfare-to-work reforms passed in 1996, it is instructive to note that, in some states, work is still regarded above handouts. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is one of the more common federal welfare programs. The states have a fair amount of leeway in how they implement this program.

California, for example, continuously sought, and received, a federal waiver to not enforce the 1996 welfare reform requirement that limited the receipt of welfare for more than five years without working. As a result, California’s welfare rolls expanded to fully one-third of the nation’s total even though California comprises only one-eighth of the nation’s population.

An adult in Texas, by contrast, is one-fifth as likely to be using the TANF welfare program as the national average and 1/14th as likely to be on TANF as an adult in California.