One of Utah’s leading politicians is pushing to make Americans work for their welfare. Republican Sen. Mike Lee has introduced a bill that would restore the work requirements for welfare that President Obama suspended in 2009. His “Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act” will require able-bodied adults without dependents to work 36 hours per month, or 72 hours per month for those with dependents. The bill will also require states to report all means-tested welfare spending and comply with performance measures.
The welfare reform bill is cosponsored by several other politicians including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter, and Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe. “Poverty is not just the absence of money, but also the absence of opportunity,” said Lee. “Today’s poverty programs place artificial restraints on those who are trying to get ahead, build careers and provide better lives for themselves and their families. Successful welfare programs are those that make poverty more temporary, not more tolerable.”
Last month, Ohio adopted measures to strip 10,000 state residents of their food stamps for not working. Newly enforced work requirements mandate that food stamp recipients spend at least 20 hours per week working, volunteering, attending school or engaging in job training. The requirements were put into place last October, but county caseworkers are still completing required assessments to determine whether current recipients must comply with the new rule. Only those with mental illness, substance abuse or similar issues are exempt from the new policy.
Although this policy has been part of Ohio law since 1996, the state used a federal waiver to exempt food stamp recipients for the past six years due to the economic crisis. But now that thousands of recipients have refused to undergo assessments about their eligibility food stamp assessment, they are also expected to be removed from the public assistance program by the end of the month. Out of the 1.8 million Ohioans who receive food stamps, more than 350,000 of them have no cash income.