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

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

CONCLUSIONS

As the United States shifts the authority over many social welfare programs from the federal government to the state governments, certain programs should stay under the federal government's authority. Income security for children is one of them. As this country meets the rest of the world in both economic partnership and competition, it will be in the national interest to make sure that as many children as possible have the health and skills necessary to hold high-paying jobs when they reach adulthood. Otherwise, future generations of workers will be unable to support the retired population adequately.

If the states were to develop their own income-security programs for children, there would be interstate variations in provisions, as has occurred with other state-developed programs, such as unemployment insurance. A federally developed income-security program for children would ensure that even children in the poorest state would have a minimum level of economic well-being, below which no child could fall.

Because income security for children is directly linked to the future of both the American economy and support for the elderly, the program should be pursued outside the domain of welfare. Both philosophically and programmatically, welfare programs are unsuitable for establishing income security for children. The most appropriate solution is to use the federal income-tax system to collect revenues nationwide and redistribute fiscal resources to children.

Establishing a national minimum income for children should be considered part of the national strategy for developing diverse skills that meet high standards. In the final analysis, the paramount issue will be how well Americans can perform the tasks at hand, whatever types of occupations they have chosen. This point cannot be overemphasized. The major challenge the United States faces is whether it can create, in its racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse society, future generations of workers, out of the current generations of children, who will have a consistently high level of capability.


NOTE
1.
The projected 1996 figures for EITC were obtained from James R. Storey of Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress, on 9 November, 1995. To calculate the 1996 poverty line, I inflated the 1993 figures at the compounded rate of 3 percent per year.

REFERENCES

Applebee A. N. et al. 1989. Crossroads in American education. Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service.

-175-

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