In 1996, the Democratic President, Bill Clinton, signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which changed the face of Welfare as we knew it. Newt Gingrich did not introduce the bill, but he pushed for considerable change in the way the Federal government administered Welfare. The new bill:
- Ended welfare as an entitlement program;
- Required recipients to begin working after two years of receiving benefits;
- Placed a lifetime limit of five years on benefits paid by federal funds;
- Aimed to encourage two-parent families and discouraged out-of-wedlock births.
- Enhanced enforcement of child support.
Those changes are pretty nice. Most people don't realize that someone cannot be on Welfare (TANF) for a lifetime. Most people don't realize the work requirement, nor that the benefits are inaccessible if a parent cannot file for child support. Also, most folks do not realize that child support payments count toward the total income someone in the house has, whether it is regularly received by that person or not, and that if the child support puts someone even slightly over the eligible income limits, he or she cannot receive those government benefits.
These points are important, because how we view the "welfare mom" is important to how we think we need to reform social assistance programs.