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Bruce Bialosky

To Work or Not to Work, That is The Question

A large portion of the national debt limit bill negotiations involved reestablishing work requirements to receive payments from the various government hand out programs. President Biden objected to what was in the House bill and a compromise was struck. Why are we discussing this now?

There is definitely a difference of opinion even though a bipartisan bill was passed in 1996 and signed by President Clinton. That bill ended the aspect of welfare programs encouraging people to sit on the sidelines while others worked and produced the resources off which they would be living.

The attitude is exemplified by Zack Beauchamp of Vox describing the successes of Joe Biden. He stated” The May jobs report found that the US economy produced 339,000 jobs, a blistering pace of growth.” That would be true if someone were totally unaware that 10 million American jobs remain open and have for many months. That means only 3.4% of the jobs open were filled. It would truly be a “blistering pace of growth” if all those people sitting on the sidelines took say 1.5 million jobs in a month.

And why are these people sitting on the sidelines? Because they can. It used to be that people worked so they would not starve or end up homeless. So, they could take care of their families. Now the government has encouraged people to take benefits and litter themselves on the streets of our once glorious cities.

An example of how things got better when we altered the process of handouts was outlined in a Wall Street Journal interview with Robert Doar, president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Doar cited that in 1996 in New York City, a mess at the time, 1.1 million people were on welfare in a city of less than eight million. The city was encouraging this behavior. That changed. Over a period of years that number reduced to 360,000 welfare recipients while the population grew.

We all know that there are people who are physically or mentally restricted from working. Many of those disabilities are self-induced (drug use, refusal of help, etc.). I was told a story by someone recently of a man who was let go in a cutback from his company. He had not found a single job in six years. If he were not being provided support by his wife and the government, he might have lowered his sights and taken a job working in a different industry.

SNAP (food stamps) was the government program revised in the debt ceiling bill. The program currently requires 20 hours of work per week for adults without kids at home. The states hand out SNAP and they ignore the rules because it does not affect their budgets as the federal government pays for the program. Many states hunt down people to hand out these benefits. In a recent AEI study, they found only 25% of people who are able bodied adults between 18 and 49 without children at home worked despite receiving SNAP. It is clear that very few state governments are enforcing the rules.

To get a take on the Left’s position that is fostering these continuing handouts to able-bodied people who are not filling the many open positions we can look to a recent column in the New York Times by one of their lead columnists, Jamelle Bouie. Mr. Bouie thinks work requirements are hokum. He flat out says “work requirements for federal assistance programs do not, well, work.”

Bouie stated, “Work requirements don’t work, but Republicans still want them, so much they threatened to crash the global economy to get them.” One cannot totally blame him for making this comment as our irresponsible president stated he saved us from “economic collapse.” No, he did not; we were never anywhere near that. Remember when presidents were a calming influence? Biden talks as though he is the head hysteric.

Bouie reups a new reason from the Left as to why we should not establish rules to limit who can receive free money from the government. The argument goes like this — the cost to enforce the rules is just too costly. Maybe our nominee for labor secretary, Julie Su, should try that as her defense for the $20 billion in fraud from unemployment paid to people under her watch.

Bouie states, “It costs states tens of millions of dollars to institute work requirements. The administration of Arkansas’s work requirement for Medicaid costs close to $26 million. After the Iowa legislature passed its bill to impose work requirements on SNAP recipients, the nonpartisan Iowa Legislative Services Agency put the cost of administering the new rules at $17 million over the next three years. Beyond the cost to government, there’s the fact that reducing benefits harms the overall economy; what people don’t have, they can’t spend.”

There you have it folks. Just hand out more government money and don’t set up any rules about who qualifies because the cost to administer the rules is wasted and it harms the economy. These are the same people who say stopping shoplifting in stores costs too much and is dangerous for the employees. Why set age requirements for Social Security and Medicaid?

How about this concept: We will establish programs to aid those in need. Anyone who illegally takes advantage of these programs will suffer swift and sure punishment for violating the rules. When was the last time you saw anyone indicted for defrauding the government?

Economists used to say this is the way things work: People get jobs, they stop getting government handouts, they start paying taxes thus the revenues of the government go up and the expenditures go down thus decreasing the budget deficit. That certainly would help because Mr. Biden has engineered a $2.1 trillion deficit for this year despite it being post-pandemic.

With the attitudes displayed by people on the Left about government handouts, it is no wonder our governments are drowning in debt and many people think our country is going to hell in a handbasket.