The National Government and Social Welfare: What Should Be the Federal Role?

By John E. Hansan; Robert Morris | Go to book overview

Chapter 12
Federal Role in Establishing National Income Security for Children

Martha N. Ozawa

The federal government is confronted with a great challenge: to cut expenditures for welfare programs while investing more public resources in the nation's children. Such investment is necessary if the country is to have a future workforce with the skills necessary to compete in the global economy and to support the impending retirees of the baby-boom generation, each of whom will have only two workers to support them instead of the current three ( Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds 1995). How the United States can meet this challenge and what the federal government's role should be are crucial issues to address.

The government's push to cut expenditures for welfare programs is in response to negative public attitudes toward welfare families, which are compounded by the fact that, increasingly, women are becoming dependent on welfare because they give birth out of wedlock as teenagers. In 1991, as many as 53 percent of the children on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) had mothers who had never been married, as compared with 32 percent in 1973 ( House 1993, 696). Of the $47.27 billion that were spent on all AFDC families in 1990-including AFDC, Medicaid, and food stamps--an estimated $25.05 billion (or 52 percent) were spent on AFDC families whose dependence was the result of teenage pregnancy and childbirth. The annual public expenditures to support each such family increased from $13,902 per year in 1985 to $28,123 per year in 1990, in 1990 dollars ( House 1993, 1148).

Responding to the public's apprehension about welfare programs and their beneficiaries, Republicans proceeded to implement the Contract with

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