Another main point that authors Grogger and Karoly point out is the fact that the samples used to help build and implement the 1996 welfare reform, specifically the TANF legislation, were skewed in their representation of specific demographics (66). As the need for welfare affects different groups, the need for reform grows out of the necessity to better serve the populations in need. As the 1996 welfare reform events fade further into history, the need to revamp and reform the system grows. As with any government assistance program there are going to be individuals who abuse it and improper fitting of certain demographics. Without a doubt, the political and economic landscapes have changed so much since 1996 that a reform is necessary. Another key point that quickly becomes relevant when talking about the proposed fiscal austerity of most major world economies in the wake of the global economic recession is the fact that as the U.S. begins to tighten its budget it will undoubtedly look for ways to trim the inefficiencies out of many government programs. This will have the effect of saving money but also of helping those who need federal assistance most to receive that aid.
Another major consideration that must be examined in light of the need for welfare reform is the fact that as certain demographics begin receiving assistance; they also begin to change their financial behavior. This can occur early on after receiving assistance or later after the individual or family has been receiving aid for quite some time. Authors Hurst and Zilliak (50) suggest that modifying the amount of time that a person or family can receive assistance is key in modifying these financial behaviors for the better. Many people, when faced with the fact that they are going to have to request special government assistance just to subsist, feel as though they will never be able to save their money or work their way out of the financial hole they are in.
In other words, the authors present the case that people on welfare sometimes become complacent in their situation, and that the term limits for receiving such assistance need to be changed to reflect a more austere federal fiscal policy as well as the fact that welfare was meant to be a temporary form of financial help (Blank, 16). This is certainly not to say that everyone on welfare is complacent in their personal financial situations, but that welfare itself, as a form of assistance, can be used and abused by people in its current state rather easily. A reform would help the federal government save time and money and help taxpayers, politicians, and critics of the welfare system in general feel better about proving this sort of assistance to individuals and families in need.
Without a doubt the United States' welfare system needs to be reformed to reflect changes in not only the demographics of the nation but of the economic and political landscapes that have occurred since 1996. The fact that the current form of welfare is inefficient and could potentially be re-tooled to reflect a much more financially intelligent and socially helpful model is quite clear and the evidence presented by many authors and scholars stands to support this notion. Likely, the first step in such a reform would be to convince the American public as well as the politicians in office to begin to change the way welfare is looked at in the United States. A shift in public opinion could be quickly and easily followed up by moves in public policy to support a better, more effective, and more efficient welfare system.
Blank, Rebecca M. "What We Know, What We Don't Know, and What We Need to Know
About Welfare Reform." University of Michigan Presentation. March, 2007.
Duncan, G.J. And Brooks-Gunn, J. "Family Poverty, Welfare Reform, and Child