America’s Struggling Families Need Good-Paying Jobs, Not More Emergency Spending and Endless Government Checks

July 20, 2021 — Blog    — Press Releases    — Select Revenue Measures    — Worker and Family Support   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the 25th anniversary of the successful bipartisan welfare reform that created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Top Republican on the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), held a Republican roundtable examining anti-poverty welfare reforms that can further improve TANF and promote personal responsibility, time limits on eligibility, and work requirements.

 

Much like the bipartisan welfare reform of the ‘90s, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced poverty to a historic low by providing the highest wage gains for the lowest earning Americans and more jobs to choose from.

 

The last thing Americans need is higher taxes to pay for Democrats’ untargeted welfare-without-work policies.

 

Rep. Brady kicked off the Roundtable saying:

 

“We’re already seeing the consequences of Biden’s economic blunders: cash-strapped families are falling behind, as real wages decline.

 

“With more than 9 million job openings, and far too many Americans on the sidelines – the families who are hurting the most need good-paying jobs.

 

“The last thing Americans need is higher taxes to pay for Democrats’ untargeted welfare-without-work policies.

 

“Instead of addressing these shortcomings, Democrats are moving full steam ahead to spend more of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash.”

 

Rep Walorski said:

 

“Once again, Democrats are looking at another $3 trillion in spending. America’s needy families need good-paying jobs, not more emergency spending and endless government checks. With 9.3 million job openings and national worker shortage in a post-COVID economy, the country can’t afford to relegate an entire generation of workers to the sidelines.

 

“Republican solutions, such as those included in the JOBS for Success Act, focus on more modern approaches like investing in marginalized workers, promoting case management, and developing the workforce – linking federal benefits to the pursuit of work and the skills that lead to work. 

 

Senator Daines said:

 

“We all agree the goal of a welfare program is to remove barriers for individuals in poverty and begin the process of getting our fellow citizens on a path to realizing their full potential. But making poverty easier to endure should not be the end goal.”

 

[…]

 

“Our work is so much more of who we are and we don’t have a job, we lose our identity and perception of work. 

“Unfortunately, President Biden and our Democratic colleagues have taken an opposite approach. They’ve paid Americans more money to stay home instead of incentivizing them to get back to work.”

 

CLICK HERE to watch the full meeting.

CLICK HERE to watch Rep. Brady’s opening remarks.

 

Rep. Brady’s opening remarks as prepared appear below.

 

Good morning – and thank you all for joining us. Thank you to Congresswoman Walorski for leading this roundtable discussion with me today.

 

I’d like to introduce our distinguished guests – and welcome two former Ways and Means Chairman, back to the Committee.

 

Today, we’re joined by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who graciously shared a video of his insights into this important issue.

As everyone here knows, Newts’ Contract with America – and the welfare reform proposals within that contract – helped Republicans shore up majorities in the House and Senate in 1994.

 

As Speaker of the House, Newt played a pivotal role in reforming and strengthening our welfare system, to make life better for all Americans.

 

And he did it with the help of my friends and former Chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bill Archer and Dave Camp – who are also here to share their expertise on this critical issue.

 

Bill served as a Member of Congress for 30 years, and served as chairman of the Committee from 1995 to 2001.

 

And Dave served as a Member of Congress for over 24 years, and served as chairman of the Committee from 2011 to 2015.

 

Each of you were instrumental in reforming America’s anti-poverty policies to lift more families out of poverty and achieve the American dream, and we appreciate each of you for making the time to participate in this discussion.

 

We’re also joined by Senator Steve Daines, who represents the great state of Montana and serves as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Steve is a sponsor of the Senate companion to the JOBS for Success Act – legislation to strengthen welfare for the 21st century.

 

And finally, I’m pleased to welcome Matt Weidinger with the American Enterprise Institute, who served as a deputy staff director at the Committee, and as a longtime staff director of its Subcommittee on Human Resources.

 

We’re grateful to each of the guests as we look to advance common-sense reforms to our welfare programs and help more needy families reach self-sufficiency.

 

We’re here today because 25 years ago, Republicans in Congress – including our distinguished guests – along with President Bill Clinton, passed the successful and historic bipartisan welfare reform.

 

It succeeded because it put work first.

 

Welfare reform reduced caseloads by more than half, with nearly 8 million American families leaving the welfare rolls.

 

As poverty rates dropped for all ethnic groups, welfare recipients earned higher wages and achieved greater opportunity.

 

Today’s needy families need good-paying jobs, not more emergency spending and endless government checks.

 

President Reagan’s point that “the best anti-poverty program is a job” remains true today.

 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced poverty to a historic low, provided the highest wage gains for the lowest earning Americans, and created more jobs for workers to choose from.

 

In fact, from 2017 to 2019, more than 6 million people were lifted out of poverty. The poverty rate fell to 10.5 percent in 2019, the lowest level in U.S. history. And the poverty rate for black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans fell to all-time lows.

 

Sadly, the Biden Administration wants to throw out these time-tested achievements – welfare reform and tax cuts – with a different approach: prolonged emergency spending, endless government checks, and job-killing tax hikes.

 

Today, President Biden has been in office for exactly six months. And what does he have to show for it? A sabotaged economic recovery.

 

The American people were repeatedly promised a moderate Democrat administration that would champion bipartisanship.

 

Unfortunately, the exact opposite has been true.

 

The singular so-called legislative achievement of this administration is the partisan “American Rescue Plan” which has fallen 700,000 jobs short of what was promised by the second quarter.

 

Congressional Democrats rejected numerous Republican amendments to their $1.9 trillion COVID bill that would have ensured relief reached those in need – including America’s most needy children.

 

Worse – they rejected common-sense Republican amendments that would have prevented billions in taxpayer funds from ending up in the hands of criminal fraudsters.

 

We’re already seeing the consequences of Biden’s economic blunders: cash-strapped families are falling behind, as real wages decline.

 

With more than 9 million job openings, and far too many Americans on the sidelines – the families who are hurting the most need good-paying jobs.

The last thing Americans need is higher taxes to pay for Democrats’ untargeted welfare-without-work policies.

 

Instead of addressing these shortcomings, Democrats are moving full steam ahead to spend more of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash.

 

President Biden is turning temporary COVID relief into permanent welfare-without-work programs that will foster greater dependence on government, and ultimately, reduce job opportunities.

 

President Biden’s “Crush American Families Plan” expands welfare without asking people to work or even to prepare to work.

 

And rather than lift barriers to economic independence, Democrats have turned the Child Tax Credit on its head, effectively creating a new untargeted Child Allowance with no work requirement.

 

Last week, once again, families across the country received checks from the government – checks that in many cases that they don’t need and didn’t ask for.

 

I worry this approach will take us backwards – to the bad old days before the 1966 reform, when welfare was divorced from work.

 

And while Democrats ban entry level jobs through wage mandates, they’re pushing crippling tax hikes that will shutter small businesses – ultimately narrowing the path out of poverty.

 

In our booming economic recovery, instead of anchoring those in poverty to endless checks—we should be empowering them to seize greater opportunity and success.

 

In order to restore the federal government’s commitment to needy Americans, we can start with common-sense welfare reforms that promote personal responsibility, time limits on eligibility, and work requirements.

 

That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce the JOBS for Success Act, which strengthens this program, reduces poverty, and improves the lives of low-income families. 

 

This bill ensures no one gets ignored or is left on the sidelines, by requiring states to engage with every individual.

 

Further, this bill holds states accountable for the intended purpose of the program by measuring work outcomes.

 

Bipartisanship was a hallmark of welfare reform in the ‘90s. Twenty-five years later, it can be again.

 

And with that, I’d like to turn it over to Congresswoman Walorski.

 

Senator Daines’ opening remarks as prepared appear below.

 

Chairman Brady thank you, and looking at the list of folks who are on this call today, a lot of good friends from my days in the House and Kevin, thanks for your just passionate leadership there in the House Ways and Means.

 

I’d say when you think about the cycles of generational poverty they certainly plagued to many of our communities. I can speak firsthand, as you all can by your own communities, I can say about Montana, because of barriers that limit opportunity, often times those barriers are imposed by the federal government.

 

We all agree the goal of a welfare program is to remove barriers for individuals in poverty, and begin the process of getting our fellow citizens on a path to realizing their full potential. But making poverty easier to endure should not be the end goal, so often federal programs just make poverty, easier to endure.

 

We’ve got to make it easy to escape poverty permanently, and this this bill, we’re sure that all these work eligible beneficiaries have a job. Or with help the case manager if you’re looking for a job, and we’ve got situations where increasingly more dependency on drugs, we’ve got those who are addicted, trying to get off of that, we can help work with them.

 

Where they can have the time to make sure they’re getting the treatment at the same time, finding ways to get back into the workforce that is so important is when we agreed on solving the root cause problem getting him back to work. And I think we all would agree that the hope in many cases is back with the states, we’re seeing this with the leadership of many of our governors who are out in front, we see the dysfunction in D.C., but thank God for the leadership of governors pack in our states and what this bill does.

 

It helps improve accountability by requiring the report cards and how effectively states are administering those programs. I think many of us would also agree there’s dignity in work, in a job and for Americans, a job is truly an opportunity for mobility. When you’re introducing somebody you ask them, “What’s your name,” and you ask them “What do you do?” Our work is so much more of who we are and we don’t have a job, we lose our identity and perception of work.

 

Unfortunately, President Biden and our Democratic colleagues have taken an opposite approach. They’ve paid Americans more money instead of incentivizing them to get back to work. And as we’re seeing right before us, President Biden and my Senate Democratic colleagues are looking to go further with this three-and-a-half-trillion dollar taxing and spending spree. That was only going to trap families in this cycle and more government dependence.

 

Sadly President Biden and the far left and the far left seems increasingly to include most of my Democratic colleagues in terms of where they’re taking positions. They seem to have lost faith in the American people and their ability to be self-sufficient, but thankfully, those of us gathered here today have not lost faith in the American people And then chairman Brady and the committee on the call here today thank you for the leadership.

 

Rep. Walorski’s opening remarks as prepared appear below.

 

Thank you, Senator.

 

Good morning and welcome. I want to thank everyone for joining us for today’s important roundtable on how we can build on welfare reform’s success to lift more Americans out of poverty.

 

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jackie Walorski from Indiana’s 2nd District. As Ranking Member of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee, I am proud of the subcommittee’s longstanding leadership and multi-year efforts to pass welfare reform. We have consistently enacted policies that reduce poverty by helping families achieve self-sufficiency through the dignity and value of work.

 

As welfare reform turns 25, now is a good time to reaffirm the fundamental and enduring principles of personal responsibility and work that Republicans on this Committee successfully championed in 1996.

 

Welfare reform converted our nation’s welfare system from an open- ended entitlement – which caused rising welfare caseloads, long durations in poverty, and rising single parenthood – into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant that provides fixed funding to States and for the first time required work in exchange for benefits.

 

That’s why I am proud to co-sponsor the JOBS for Success Act to restore the promise of welfare reform by reauthorizing TANF to strengthen accountability and measure work outcomes. In my home state of Indiana, TANF provides a cash benefit so that families can meet their basic needs, but it also offers non-cash support through programs like case management that help parents find and keep jobs.

 

The JOBS for Success Act includes several provisions similar to a bill I introduced called the Coordinating Assistance for TANF Recipients Act.  My bill would improve case management by providing states with more flexibility to customize work activities for individuals depending on their needs.

 

I believe case management is critical in driving change. Case managers are first responders. It’s the case manager that provides much needed human support to families in need and helps them gain access to tools and services that will equip them to turn their lives around, get back to work, and support their families.

 

Twenty-five years after welfare reform, President Biden is using temporary emergency COVID relief to take us backwards. Democrats upended the child tax credit in an unprecedented attempt to start using the IRS to distribute cash welfare – to the tune of $100 billion per year – further disincentivizing work.  These payments will flow, no strings attached, regardless of whether the recipient earned any income or worked.Instead of designing effective evidence-based programs, Democrats want to create a system of automatic benefits that send poorer families a check and walk away, as if the absence of money were the only problem families in need face. To be sure, checks will help many families with immediate material deprivations. But, families in poverty almost always face multiple barriers and have underlying problems that perpetuate the cycle of poverty – from addiction, domestic violence, and abuse and neglect, to unaddressed mental health problems.

 

Republican principles for lifting families out of poverty are exactly the opposite. Expecting work in exchange for benefits is a foundational pillar of the 1996 reform efforts.  As you will hear from our guests today, it worked. Welfare reforms focused on earned success provided millions of families a pathway out of poverty through employment. Coupled with Republican pro-growth policies, like those in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, these are the types of winning solutions we should be championing.

 

No amount of endless government checks —no matter how well-intentioned—can address the underlying challenges that could be holding a family back from success. Case management practices that promote work and focus on people, not programs, can help families set goals, connect them to useful services, and show them a path forward.

Now more than ever, we cannot afford to wait. From the gas pump to the grocery store, inflation caused by out-of-control Democrat spending has devastating consequences for struggling families.

 

Once again, Democrats are looking at another $3 trillion in spending. America’s needy families need good-paying jobs, not more emergency spending and endless government checks. With 9.3 million job openings and national worker shortage in a post-COVID economy, the country can’t afford to relegate an entire generation of workers to the sidelines.

 

Republican solutions, such as those included in the JOBS for Success Act, focus on more modern approaches like investing in marginalized workers, promoting case management, and developing the workforce – linking federal benefits to the pursuit of work and the skills that lead to work.

 

I’m honored to have the visionary leaders behind these principles join us today and look forward to hearing your comments.

 

Before we start, I’ll have staff tee-up a special video from Newt Gingrich, who was unable to join this meeting today. Caroline can you please play the video?