After President Trump’s tax overhaul victory, he promised that welfare reform would be the next item on his list of things to change.
Decades of welfare abuse, which was allowed by a broken and bloated “swamp” of a federal government, left taxpayers feeling bitter and jaded, and as Americans watched their money being given to those who chose not to work, a demand for welfare reform began.
In a powerful op-ed, Newt Gingrich highlights the urgent need for welfare reform, and explained why the “welfare state” in America is “unsustainable.”
The Trump economy is strong. The stock market is at record highs and the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low. This is thanks largely to the Trump Administration’s aggressive regulatory reforms and the passage of historic tax cuts. Business after business is celebrating the passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by announcing new investments, bonuses, and pay raises.
But despite soaring business confidence and a strong economy, businesses are scrambling to find workers to fill 6 million open jobs. And now, their primary challenge is to get people who have been sitting on the sidelines back to work.
President Trump knows our broken welfare system is a major barrier to achieving this goal, and he has vowed to tackle welfare reform next. And it’s a good thing, because welfare definitely is, as the President put it, “out of control.”
In 2000, over 17 million Americans received food stamps, officially known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. That number has swelled to more than 42 million today. As a result of Obama Administration’s policies, the number of Americans on food stamps is now greater than the population of Canada.
Nationwide spending on the program is roughly $70 billion annually —20 percent of whichis wasted on junk food, candy, soda, and other sugary drinks. Consider California, which spent more than $1 billion on food stamp benefits in August and September alone.
During the Obama years, liberals argued that the program was expanding rapidly due to the recession. But that was only half the story, as the Obama Administration also expanded program eligibility through aggressive administrative actions.
And now, despite the booming economy and employers who are desperate for more workers, enrollment in food stamps remains high — and is not expected to return to pre-recession levels any time soon, if ever.
The good news is that President Trump has a chance to take on food stamps in the upcoming Farm Bill, which funds the program and is reauthorized every five years. The bad news is that unfortunately, the food stamp program is not the only runaway welfare program.
Medicaid enrollment has soared to nearly 75 million, with almost one out of every five Americans on the program. Medicaid spending is now 30 percent of state budgets, and the number of working age, able-bodied adults on the program has more than quadrupled since 2000. Even worse, 52 percent of non-disabled adult enrollees do not work at all. Let me repeat, these are able-bodied Americans who have decided not to work.
Similarly, Social Security Disability for working-age adults nearly doubled from 1996 to 2015, increasing from 7.7 million to 13 million and pulling more working-age adults out of the workforce. Are we to believe, with all of our workplace safety and health care advancements in the past 20 years, that Americans are now nearly twice as likely to become disabled as they were two decades ago? Or are there simply now more people collecting disability who are actually fully capable of working?
This is why President Trump’s plan to tackle welfare reform is so important. With no major federal welfare reform in over 20 years, these programs have continued to consume more public funds and encourage more Americans to seek dependency, rather than a productive work life.
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