Reforming the Poor: Welfare Policy, Federalism, and Morality

Reforming the Poor: Welfare Policy, Federalism, and Morality

Reforming the Poor: Welfare Policy, Federalism, and Morality

Reforming the Poor: Welfare Policy, Federalism, and Morality

Excerpt

On June 10, 1970, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare flatly told Congress that "the present welfare system has been a failure." There are few people who would disagree with that statement. But there is less agreement as to just why the system has failed, how it got that way, and what to do about it.

When the secretary said "welfare" he meant the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC). AFDC is only one of the many welfare programs, but it is our largest cash assistance program, the costliest, and the most notorious. It is our "crisis" in welfare.

The immediate cause of the crisis has been the program's phenomenal growth and cost. Since 1960, the number of AFDC recipients rose from 2.4 million to about 10 million children and adults. In the last five years, the number of recipients rose by more than 75 per cent; the number of recipients in the last year alone increased by more than 30 per cent. In 1955, 30 children per 1,000 were on AFDC; in 1970, this proportion was 85. In the last ten years, the cost of the program tripled. (It costs about four billion dollars now and the estimate for 1972 is almost seven billion dollars.) Moreover, the program has been growing despite periods of relatively low un-

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