Safety Net: Welfare and Social Security, 1929-1979

By Blanche D. Coll | Go to book overview

8
The Welfare Mess

SANGUINE PREDICTIONS OF declining caseloads and costs ignored actual rising caseloads and costs, not to speak of strident warning signals of public disapproval of welfare programs, particularly ADC and general assistance. Not since WPA days had there been so much sensational welfare news.


Back on Page One

The first wave of criticism began in 1947 and lasted five years. Welfare not only returned to page 1 of the newspapers but was featured in popular magazines, on radio, even on that new powerful media instrument, television. "Welfare boom" stories zeroed in on chiselers and cheats, runaway husbands, live-in boyfriends, unmarried baby breeders, loafers, and drunks. But these articles also contained numbers, big numbers--$2.3 billion yearly going to 5.7 million persons "in the midst of record prosperity," noted U.S. News and World Report.

The taxpayers, many of whom had become liable for federal income taxes for the first time during World War II, now saw state and local taxes climbing also, with sales taxes on necessities one of the newer ways to raise revenue.1 For married couples the federal income tax filing requirement dropped from $5,000 in 1939 to $1,200 in 1942, where it remained. The first tax bracket, which stood at 4 percent in 1939, reached 22.2 percent in 1952, dropped slightly to 20 percent in 1954, and remained at

-176-

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Safety Net: Welfare and Social Security, 1929-1979
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - This Business of Relief 1
  • 2 - From the Cradle to the Grave 34
  • 3 - Planning Welfare Programs 54
  • 4 - The Unsettling Question 80
  • 5 - An Orphan Program 103
  • 6 - The Main Stem 124
  • 7 - The Safety Net 149
  • 8 - The Welfare Mess 176
  • 9 - More Than a Salvage Operation 205
  • 10 - Workfare 239
  • 11 - Welfare Reform 257
  • 12 - To End Welfare as We Know it 277
  • Notes 289
  • Bibliography 319
  • Index 331
  • About the Author 348
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