2012 Candidates for President
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Candidate Views on Welfare And Unemployment
Congressman Paul opposes the idea that the federal government can or should be deciding who is and isn't going to receive goods and services from the public treasury. He asserts that the american people should feel a moral requirement to care for their fellow man, but that the Constitution does not allow the American people to cede that responsibility to the federal government.
On March 4, 2009, Congressman Paul spoke on the House about two bills he was introducing to help the unemployed. One bill makes a person's last paycheck tax free. The second allows a person to withdraw funds tax free from their IRAs.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS TO HELP THE UNEMPLOYED -- (Extensions of Remarks - March 04, 2009)
HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2009
Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, today I am introducing two pieces of legislation to help the increasing number of Americans who, because of the recession, have lost their jobs. The first bill, the Unemployed Tax Relief Act, makes a laid-off worker's last paycheck tax free.
The second bill, the Unemployment Assistance Act, allows unemployed people to make penalty-free withdrawals from accounts such as Roth IRAs and 401(k)s, to cover living expenses, health care, education, and job training expenses. People who make these penalty-free withdrawals while unemployed will be able to replenish their accounts once they have started new jobs.
Madam Speaker, while we may disagree about the best solutions to the economic crisis gripping the nation, I hope my colleagues will at least agree on these commonsense measures and cosponsor the Unemployed Tax Relief Act and the Unemployment Assistance Act.
Unemployment Assistance Act
In March of 2009, Congressman Paul issued a press statement noting his legislation to allow people to make penalty-free withdraws from their IRAs.
Congressman Paul Introduces Bills to Help the Unemployed
For Immediate Release March 5, 2009
Washington, D.C. - Congressman Paul has introduced two pieces of legislation to help the increasing number of Americans who have lost their jobs.
HR 1311- the Unemployment Assistance Act, allows the unemployed to make penalty-free withdrawals from accounts such as Roth IRAs or 401(K)s, to cover routine living expenses, health care expenses, or to help pay for education and job training. Those who make these penalty-free withdrawals while unemployed will be able to replenish their accounts once they have started a new job.
HR 1312-- the Unemployed Tax Relief Act, makes a laid-off worker’s last paycheck tax free.
He urged support of these bills saying, “While we may disagree on the best solutions to the economic crisis gripping the nation, I hope my colleagues will at least agree on these common-sense measures and cosponsor the Unemployed Tax Relief Act and the Unemployment Assistance Act.”
Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010
On December 2, 2010 Congressman Paul spoke on the House floor in favor of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010.
Mr. Speaker, today I voted for H.R. 4853, legislation which ensures file continuation of many of the Bush tax cuts. If no action had been taken by this Congress, all Americans would have had to pay higher income, dividend, and capital gains taxes beginning on January 1, 2011. While I would have preferred that the current lower tax rates remain in place for all Americans, the fact is that a tax cut for most people is better than a tax increase on everyone. I will always vote to lower taxes at all levels, and I will never vote for tax increases. The passage of this bill will result in the overwhelming majority of Americans paying lower taxes next year than they otherwise would have.
It is unfortunate that this bill was so highly politicized and that so much debate focused on whether or not those making over $250,000 per year would receive tax cuts. Arguments that tax cuts for the rich are unfair, or that those making more money should pay higher taxes, are based largely on envy. Whether one group or another thinks it is ``fair'' or not does not change the fact that the money should stay with the person who earned it. This is true for people at all levels of income.
But rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae of what the ideal tax rate should be, I believe we should abolish the income tax and eliminate the IRS altogether. Congress funded the government using excise taxes for more than 120 years without an income tax, and the federal government not surprisingly adhered much more closely to the constitutionally-defined limits of its powers during that time. Real tax reform can only happen when we insist on reducing the size of the federal government and reducing the pork in its bloated budget.
Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
On December 16, 2010 Congressman Paul spoke on the House floor on the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.
Mr. Chair, I recently voted again in favor of H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act, legislation which ensures the continuation of the Bush-era tax cuts, fixes the AMT patch, and significantly reduces the burden of the estate tax in 2011. If no action had been taken by this Congress, all Americans would have had to pay higher income, dividend, estate, and capital gains taxes beginning on January 1, 2011. I will always vote to lower taxes at all levels, and I will never vote for tax increases.
Many opponents of this bill labor under the mistaken impression that it contains huge amounts of pork, earmarks, and other spending. What they are referring to is hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tax credits. Tax credits are not spending, they are not earmarks, they are not pork: they merely allow people to keep more of their own money. While the Administration's desire in extending these particular credits may be to placate certain constituencies or to spur consumption or investment into certain sectors of the economy, the morally correct position is to allow people to keep their hard-earned money. That money belongs to the people and businesses who earned it, not to the government. If one wants to make it more equitable, then the amount of tax credits should be increased to include everyone.
Characterizing the tax cuts as fiscally irresponsible, as other opponents of the bill have done, is equally misguided. Those who wish to see this deal defeated because it ``adds nearly $900 billion to the National Debt'' are punishing taxpayers for the profligacy of the government. The National Debt is nearly $14 trillion because of excessive spending, not because of tax cuts. Every dollar added to the National Debt is due to the government's inability to rein in spending, not because American taxpayers are paying too little of their salaries to the Federal Government. This is why I vote against all appropriations bills. Allowing taxes to rise and provide more money to the federal government would only serve to further feed the beast that is devouring this country.
This bill also reduces the burden of the estate tax, which according to law is set to return in 2011. This unconscionable tax is an insidious form of double taxation and comes into effect in 2011 with a 55 percent tax rate. Americans should not be penalized for accumulating savings during their lifetimes. The estate tax especially harms small and family-owned businesses, which often must be sold to pay the tax bill. H.R. 4853 reduces this death tax rate from 55 percent to 35 percent, and raises the exemption from $1 million to $5 million. While I would prefer to see this tax eliminated completely, this significant tax cut will help thousands of families.
Many people have urged that this tax bill be rejected and that Republicans come back in January to vote on a clean bill. Waiting until the next Congress would also mean that taxpayers would have much more of their salary withheld until any tax cuts could be made. While it is certainly possible to wait until January, we still have a Democratic Senate, and a Democratic president who would likely veto a clean tax bill. I too would prefer to see a completely clean bill, but that is not what we have been given. A vote against the bill before us today would be a vote to raise taxes on all Americans.
Much of the debate about this bill only serves to distract people from discussing substantive change and lead to argument about picayune minutiae. I believe we should abolish the income tax and eliminate the IRS altogether. Congress funded the government using excise taxes for more than 120 years without an income tax, and the Federal Government not surprisingly adhered much more closely to the constitutionally-defined limits of its powers during that time. Real tax reform can only happen when we insist on reducing the size of the Federal Government and reducing the pork in its bloated budget.
In September of 2011, Congressman Paul participated in the Republican debate at the Reagan library. He was asked about FEMA and welfare to feed hungry children. He speaks about the ability of states to provide feeding programs, but that this is not the function of the President government.
WILLIAMS: Congressman Paul, a long time ago...
(APPLAUSE) A long time ago, a fellow Texan of yours, a young student teacher in Cotulla, Texas, was horrified to see young kids coming into the classroom hungry, some of them with distended bellies because of hunger. He made a vow that if he ever had anything to do about it, the government would provide meals, hot meals at best, in schools. The young student teacher, of course, was -- later went on to be President Lyndon Johnson. Do you think that is any more -- providing nutrition at schools for children -- a role of the federal government?
PAUL: Well, I'm sure, when he did that, he did it with local government, and there's no rules against that. That'd be fine. So that doesn't imply that you want to endorse the entire welfare state. You imply (ph) I'd endorse all welfare (ph). Any time I challenge it, you're going to challenge the whole welfare system.
No. It isn't authorized in the Constitution for us to run a welfare state. And it doesn't work. All it's filled up with is mandates. And the mandates are what we're objecting to. I want to repeal all the mandates.
But, yes, if there are poor people in Texas, we have a responsibility -- I'd like to see it voluntary as possible -- but under our Constitution, our states have that right -- if they feel the obligation, they have a perfect right to.
So don't always try to turn around and say that we who believe in liberty, we lack compassion, because we who believe in liberty and understand the market, we're the only ones that really understand how people are taken care of, how they are fed, and how people have jobs. It's the market. It's never the government that does it.
So this whole idea that there's something wrong with people who don't lavish out free stuff from the federal government somehow aren't compassionate enough. I resist those accusations.
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
In December of 2010, the House voted to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The act passed 264-157. Ron Paul voted against the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Ron Paul voted against the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act
In November of 2010, the House voted on the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act. The act failed to pass 258-154. Ron Paul voted against the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act.
Ron Paul voted against the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act.
Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act
In July of 2010 the House voted on the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act. The Act passed 270-153. Ron Paul voted against the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act.
Ron Paul voted against the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act.
Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation
This representative has not been identified as sponsoring or cosponsoring significant legislation related to this title.
Congresswoman Bachmann has not addressed too many specifics on welfare and unemployment. Her main legislation dealing with welfare has been the Positive Alternatives Act. This legislation would provide more flexibility in the use of block grants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This legislation was primarily proposed as a method to allow states to provide alternatives to abortion, but Congresswoman Bachmann also notes that the increased flexibility would allow states to adapt their programs to fit the needs of their people.
During the 2010, Congresswoman Bachmann opposed a compromise to expand unemployment benefits to states in exchange for an extension of the Bush tax cuts.
Positive Alternatives Act
In December of 2007 Congresswoman Bachmann released a statement noting her support for and act she was introducing to alter TANF benefits.
Bachmann Provides Alternatives to Women in Need
New Legislation Ensures Holistic Approach to Family Services
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
Washington, Dec 20, 2007 -
This week, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann introduced the Positive Alternatives Act, bipartisan legislation to improve the family services offered through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
TANF funds are given to states in the form of block grants and can be used for a variety of support services for both families and individuals. The Positive Alternatives Act would ensure states have the flexibility to use their TANF block grant dollars to offer pregnant women alternative-to-abortion services. This includes information or counseling that promotes childbirth instead of abortion and assists pregnant women in making informed decisions about parenting or adoption.
“Temporary assistance to needy families, if administered properly, should undertake a holistic approach,” said Bachmann. “We cannot regard the help needed by women in difficult circumstances in a one-dimensional way.”
Currently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services permits some states to use their TANF funding for alternative-to-abortion services. However, this allowable use of funds is subject to interpretation by those administering the TANF program. The Positive Alternatives Act would codify this flexibility of TANF funds and ensure that states may offer women diverse services at a critical time in their lives.
Bachmann continued, “Women with unplanned pregnancies face many challenges. Groups that can help women navigate these challenges and empower them through counseling should be included in the expansive tent of TANF eligible services.”
More Money for Less
In June of 2008, Congresswoman Bachmann wrote an op-ed discussing her opposition to the Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008.
More Money for Doing Much Less
6/12/2008 | Email Michele Bachmann | All Posts By Blogger
Having fallen short yesterday, the Democrats have brought H.R. 5749, the so-called "Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008" back to the floor for a vote. Under their parliamentary maneuver yesterday, the Democrats needed a two-thirds majority to pass the bill yesterday -- it fell 3 votes short. The Democrats are pretty much assured to succeed the second time around using a floor procedure that requires only a simple majority for passage. However, the shortfall yesterday doesn't look good against the looming veto threat from the White House.
This bill is another example of how Democrats take a decent idea that could help desperate Americans who need it the most, and in the process of hijacking it for political gain they ruin it.
Clearly, some states are feeling the unemployment crunch more than others, but this legislation makes no distinction for that. Even states with low unemployment rates would receive the 13-week extension. The White House and Republicans are willing to accept a targeted exception, but the bill as it is now is simply irresponsible.
Furthermore, this bill allows someone with as little as two weeks of work to qualify for up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits -- a dramatic cut from the 20 weeks currently required by law. H.R. 5749 would increase entitlement spending by $12.8 billion over five years and increase the deficit by $12.2 billion. However, the bill contains no spending cuts to offset this new spending.
On the Tax Cut / Unemployment Compromise
In December of 2010, Congresswoman Bachmann appeared on Fox News and spoke about her opposition to the extension of unemployment benefits if they are not paid for in cuts somewhere else.
Reaction to Tax Compromise
In December of 2010, Congresswoman Bachmann released a press statement noting her reaction to the compromise to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits.
Bachmann Reacts to Tax Compromise
Washington, Dec 7, 2010 - Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN-06) released the following statement in light of an apparent deal struck between Republicans and the White House regarding the pending tax hikes:
“Certainty must be provided to individuals, businesses large and small, farmers, and everyone impacted by the tax code. I called for the current tax rates to be made permanent for all Americans, but it appears a compromise for a two-year extension will be the temporary solution.
“It was irresponsible for Congress to adjourn in September and hit the campaign trail without finalizing the tax rates. The American people are tired of uncertainty, and this compromise on a two-year extension for all will at least offer a foundation for job creation for the immediate future.
“As part of the compromise, the President wants to extend unemployment benefits for another 13 months. Unemployment benefits are already at a historical length of 99 weeks, and the President’s request will cost another $56 billion. The President hasn’t indicated any other spending offsets or reductions to pay for these benefits, even though he claims to be committed to reducing the deficit. Our economy doesn’t have a moment to waste and it’s vital that we stop these tax increases now, but we cannot overlook the consequences of another unfunded extension of unemployment benefits. Along with the American people, I anxiously await the final version of the bill that will bring certainty to our nation’s taxpayers.”
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
In December of 2010, the House voted to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The act passed 264-157. Michele Bachmann cast a "No Vote"
Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act
In November of 2010, the House voted on the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act. The act failed to pass 258-154. Michele Bachmann voted against the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act.
Michele Bachmann voted against the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Continuation Act.
Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act
In July of 2010 the House voted on the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act. The Act passed 270-153. Michele Bachmann voted against the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act.
Michele Bachmann voted against the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act.
Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation
Amends title IV part A (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) (TANF) of the Social Security Act to repeal the Emergency Contingency Fund for State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs (Emergency Fund), as added by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and eliminate related provisions.
Amends the United States Housing Act of 1937 to prohibit section 8 rental assistance (including tenant- and project-based assistance) from being provided to any family that includes a convicted felon or illegal alien. Places a five-year limitation on section 8 rental assistance, disregarding any month during which such individual was a member of a disabled or elderly family so assisted. Prohibits such assistance on behalf of any family, unless each member of the family who is 18 years of age or older performs at least 20 hours of work activities per week. Requires the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to exempt from such prohibition any individual family member who meets certain requirements. Requires a public housing agency (PHA), in providing such housing assistance, to give preference to families that include a member who is a veteran that will reside in the dwelling unit. Expresses the sense of Congress that the HUD Moving to Work demonstration program under the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 1996 should be expanded to include significantly more PHAs. Authorizes the use of unspent section 8 housing assistance payments for section 8 compliance measures. Requires approved PHA plans, including modifications and amendments, to be made public at the PHA's office and in electronic form on the World Wide Web.
Herman Cain is generally opposed to expansive government welfare programs. He has stated that such programs tend to encourage people not to seek employment, while forcing people to provide for themselves encourages them to find work to provide for themselves.
In 2006, Herman Cain wrote an article in which he expressed disapproval at the country's increased use of the LIHEAP program to use government funds to pay for heating bills of people who cannot pay for the utility themselves. He stated that instead of forcing the poor to choose between food and heat, the Senate could have cut the stifling taxes and regulations on energy companies, encouraging them to increase the supplies of oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power.
Around Christmas of 2010, Herman Cain wrote an article discussing the work of Jesus Christ. He stated that Jesus Christ was able to assist the poor and do numerous public works without the use of expansive government programs.
In 2011, Herman Cain responded to a question on Welfare by noting that he supported the 1990 reforms. He stated that programs that make it so that people are not required to work to provide for themselves encourage people not to find work.
LIHEAP is a low income heating assistance program in which the government pays for heating assistance. In March of 2006, Herman Cain wrote an article noting his opposition to the government intervention in the market. He notes that lessening government involvement would lower costs to allow people to pay for such things themselves.
... The Senate also voted last week to raise the federal debt ceiling to nearly $9 trillion, dispelling any myths that a majority of Senators are truly committed to fiscal restraint. The Senate continued their spending madness by approving budget amendments to increase funding by over $3 billion for heating assistance for the poor. Excuse me! This is not a legitimate role of the federal government. It is a local responsibility. Will the next program pay for central air conditioning for the poor? This is the kind of program that has led to the spending mess we are in today with all social programs.
Instead of actually fixing the problems Congress caused in the first place by enacting their litany of entitlement programs, the Senate last week chose the ageless and gutless election year tactic of “spend ‘till it hurts, then raise the limits and spend some more.” To address the alleged problem of the poor choosing between food and heat, the Senate could have cut the stifling taxes and regulations on energy companies, encouraging them to increase the supplies of oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power. This Senate would have none of that common sense thinking. To the contrary, we are asked to believe that energy companies are evil profit-makers who raise grandma’s gas bill in the dead of winter, requiring the good guys in the Senate to ride to the rescue with bags of cash. ...
The Perfect Conservative
In December of 2010, Herman Cain wrote an article discussing Christmas and Jesus Christ. In that article, he discusses the work of Jesus taking place without the benefit of government programs or intervention.
He was not born into a royal family, but He left a royal impression on the world.
For 30 years, He learned the ways of the world without becoming of the world. He then changed the world for the better.
He led without a mandate. He taught without a script. His common sense parables filled people with promise and compassion, His words forever inspiring.
He never condemned what others believed – just sin, evil and corruption.
He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps. And everywhere He went, it turned into a rally, attracting large crowds, and giving them hope, encouragement and inspiration.
For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check. Nevertheless, he completed all the work He needed to get done. He didn’t travel by private jet. He walked and sailed, and sometimes traveled on a donkey.
But they made Him walk when He was arrested and taken to jail, and no, He was not read any Miranda Rights. He was arrested for just being who He was and doing nothing wrong. And when they tried Him in court, He never said a mumbling word.
He didn’t have a lawyer, nor did He care about who judged Him.
His judge was a higher power.
The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12.
His death reset the clock of time.
Never before and not since has there ever been such a perfect conservative.
For over 2,000 years the world has tried hard to erase the memory of the perfect conservative, and His principles of compassion, caring and common sense.
His followers are now millions and millions the world over, as those who resent Him have intensified their attacks on who He was and what His followers believe.
The attacks are disguised as political correctness, or a misunderstanding of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Separation of Church and State does not mean Separation of Church from State. The State cannot impose Church on the people, but the people can display and say as much Church in the public square as they desire.
Our Founders recognized that distinction, which helped to inspire the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the founding of this nation – The United States of America!
We must be the Defending Fathers and the defenders of the perfect conservative.
That’s why I proudly wish one and all a very Merry Christmas!
Christianity Today Interview
In March of 2011, Herman Cain was interviewed by Christianity Today. He was asked about his previous column in which he referred to Jesus Christ helping people without government programs.
In a column you wrote late last year, you described Jesus Christ as the "Perfect Conservative," because "he helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health-care system. He fed the hungry without food stamps." An increasing number of evangelicals are passionate about serving the cause of social justice. What would you say to those who see government assistance as one avenue through which our society can help the poor and the oppressed, as Christ commanded?
Christ empowered people. He didn't make them dependent. That's the difference. And I've said we must go from an entitlement society to an empowerment society. Programs today are designed to make people more dependent rather than less dependent. When Jesus gave three servants talents—this is in Matthew, the story of the ten talents, the five talents, and the one talent—he expected them to go out and use those talents to multiply those talents. And the servant that got the one talent sat on it, did not multiply it, and he was chastised by Christ. So that is the parable that suggests Jesus didn't want people to be dependent.
Jesus could have sat there and said, "Okay, when you use up those talents"—and that could have been food, it could have been water, shelter—"come back and I'll give you some more." No. He wanted them to go out and use them to multiply them. And so I believe that Christ wants people to be empowered to help themselves.
Jesus also said, "The poor will always be with us." He did not say, "The poor have to always be poor." And if you look at the poor in this country, some people don't remain poor.I think that's what Christ expects of us, is to help people get out of poverty, to help people that cannot help themselves; that is Christ-like. But not make people dependent.
In May of 2011, Herman Cain spoke to a classroom of AP government students about a number of topics. He was asked a question about where he stands on welfare. In his response, he states that welfare should help those who help themselves. He pointed to the reforms of the 1990's and stated that those reforms encouraged people to go back to work.
New Hampshire Debate
In June of 2011, Senator Santorum participated in the Presidential debate in New Hampshire. He noted his work on welfare reform under Speaker Gingrich and President Clinton.
SANTORUM: Well, if you look at my record, I'm someone who's actually accomplished a lot on big issues. Take for example welfare reform. I was in the United States Senate and actually at the direction of Newt Gingrich I was on the Ways and Means Committee and I drafted the Contract with America Welfare Reform Bill.
It was considered this extreme measure. Well, that extreme measure we ended up winning an election and getting those seats. And that was now the starting point. And I managed that bill in the United States Senate because I cared about the dignity of every person.
I didn't believe that poverty was the ultimate disability. I believed that people could work and they could succeed. And we brought people together. I got 70 votes to end a federal entitlement -- to end a federal entitlement which was what Paul Ryan's proposed for Medicaid, he's proposed for food stamps, he's proposed for other welfare programs.
We did it. We set the template, and I led and got bipartisan support to do it.
In September of 2011, Senator Santorum participated in the Republican debate at the Reagan library. He discusses his work on previous welfare reforn and his overall views on welfare.
In December of 2011, Senator Santorum participated in a foum that was moderated by Mike Huckabee. He speaks about his desire to see the federal components of welfare programs returned to the states and his role in the previous welfare reform.
Dartmouth Economic Debate
On October 11, 2011 Senator Santorum participated in a debate at Dartmouth University. Senator Santorum spoke there about the correlation between poverty and the family, noting that families that remained intact rarely fell into poverty.
SANTORUM: There is more to it than that. And I agree with Rick, what he said, but the biggest problem with poverty in America, and we don’t talk about here, because it’s an economic discussion - and that is the break down of the American family.
You want to look at the poverty rate among families that have two - that have a husband and wife working in them? It’s 5 percent today. A family that’s headed by one person? It’s 30 percent today. We need to do something, and we need to talk about economics. The home - the word “home” in Greek is the basis of the word “economy.” It is - it is the foundation of our country. We need to have a policy that supports families, that encourages marriage.
ROSE: All right.
SANTORUM: that has fathers take responsibility for their children. You can’t have limited government - you can’t have a wealthy society if the family breaks down, that basic unit of society. And that needs to be included in this economic discussion.
Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation
This representative has not been identified as sponsoring or cosponsoring significant legislation related to this title.
Extending Benefits and a 1% Spending Cut
In July of 2010 Congressman Gingrich appeared on Fox News and stated that if President Obama would agree to a 1% reduction in spending levels, then Republicans would agree to extending unemployment benefits.
Republican Governor's Association Speech
In December of 2010, Congressman Gingrich gave a speech to the Republican Governor's Association in which he discussed items that Governor's could do to regain authority from the federal government. One of those items was change the distribution of welfare payments.
1. Turn the $132 billion spent on unemployment compensation last year into a human capital development fund by requiring every person who can't find a job to take a training program in return for their compensation. Paying people to do nothing for 99 weeks is as wrong in unemployment compensation as it was in welfare. This is an opportunity to dramatically enhance the working skills of the American people at no new cost.
Fox News / Google Debate
On September 22, 2011 Congressman Gingrich participated in the Fox News / Google debate. In that debate he was asked about extending unemployment benefits and stated that he was deeply opposed to giving people money for doing nothing.
KELLY: Speaker Gingrich, this next one's for you. You criticized extending unemployment benefits, saying that you were, quote, "opposed to giving people money for doing nothing." Benefits have already been extended to 99 weeks, and they are set to expire soon. If you were president today, would you extend unemployment benefits? And if not, how do you justify that to the millions of unemployed Americans who are looking in earnest and whose families are depending on those checks?
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, what I've said is that I think unemployment compensation should be tied directly to a training program. And if you have to -- if you don't have a job and you need help, then in order for us to give you the help, you should sign up for a business-led training program so that that 99 weeks becomes an investment in human capital, giving us the best-trained workforce in the world so you can get a job.
But I believe it is fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks for doing nothing. That's why we had welfare reform.
And, frankly, the easiest thing for Congress to do, if the president sends up a proposed extension, is to allow all 50 states to experiment at the state level with developing a mandatory training component of unemployment compensation, so you'd have 50 parallel experiments, and not pretend that Washington knows best or that Washington can solve the problem by itself. But I believe deeply, people should not get money for doing nothing.
Unleashing Growth and Innovation to Move Beyond the Welfare State
On November 21, 2011 Congressman Gingrich released a plan to address health care, social security, and welfare reform. Nine of the pages of the 49 page plan are dedicated to welfare reform. Those pages are shown below.
Step 2: Fundamentally Reforming The Welfare Empire
The term “welfare state” is inadequate to describe America’s means-tested welfare complex targeted to the poor. What we have is a welfare empire involving perhaps 185 joint federal/state means tested welfare programs, including Medicaid,Food Stamps, 27 low income housing programs, 30 employment and training programs, 34 social services programs, another dozen food and nutrition programs,another 22 low income health programs, and 24 low income child care programs,among others.
Federal and state governments spend close to a trillion dollars a year just on these means tested welfare programs, not counting Social Security and Medicare.That is roughly $17,000 per person in poverty, over $50,000 for a family of three living in poverty. The Census Bureau estimates that our current welfare spending totals four times what would be necessary just to give all of the poor the cash to bring them up to the poverty line. Charles Murray wrote a whole book, In These Hands, documenting that we spend far more than enough to completely eliminate all poverty in America. This dramatic overspending leaves wide scope for reforms that would be far more effective in reducing poverty, while still saving taxpayers a fortune.
President Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Poverty” with a series of landmark bills in 1964 and 1965. These initiatives marked the beginning themodern phase of the American welfare state, as a number of services for low-incomeAmericans that had previously been provided by states, communities and charitable organizations all of a sudden became institutionalized in federal programs.The price tag has been staggering: Between 1965 and 2008, the federalgovernment spent about $16 trillion (in 2008 dollars) on means-tested programsfor low-income Americans.
Have this massive cost served to raise tens of millions out of poverty? Hardly
The massive economic growth in the two decades immediately following the Depression and World War II created wealth that was shared by many income groups. The national poverty rate fell from 32% in 1950, to 22.4% in 1959, to 12.1%in 1969, just as War on Poverty programs were beginning to take effect.
However, since 1969, the poverty rate has actually risen. 41 years and nearly$16 trillion later, the poverty rate now stands at 15.1% (2010), three percentage points higher than at the outset of Johnson’s grand initiative.
The War on Poverty: Why Did it Fail?
The explanation for the failure of the War on Poverty is rooted in two fatal design flaws: the welfare programs actually removed incentives for low-income Americans to work, and the guidelines of a number of the federal programs actually made it a disadvantage to live in a two-parent household.
With fewer low-income Americans working, and their family structures disintegrating, its no surprise that we've made little progress combatting poverty over the last four decades.
Let ’s first look at work incentives.
In the years immediately prior to Johnson Administration, nearly two-thirds of households in the bottom income quintile were headed by someone who worked.Thirty years later, this number had fallen by half: In 1991, only about a third of those heading the lowest-income households were working, and only a third of those working were working full time.
How did this happen? It certainly was not because of a lack of jobs. During the Reagan years alone, American businesses created nearly 20 million new jobs,and the unemployment rate hovered around 5% by the late 1980s.
Rather, it was rooted in the way that Washington had structured these new welfare programs. The federal government offered benefits that were wide-ranging and lucrative, though there were only weak, and sometimes non-existent requirements for recipients to attempt to find work in order to qualify for benefits.In fact, many of these benefits were available only to those who were underemployed or unemployed.
If a low-income American entered the workforce, he would immediately lose many of his federal welfare benefits, and on top of that, he would have to start paying payroll and income taxes. As it turned out, for a number of individuals,entering full-time employment became too “expensive” compared to staying at home and collecting benefits–this phenomenon came to be called the “welfare trap.”
So millions of low-income Americans weighed the costs and benefits of working full-time, versus the costs and benefits of remaining out of the workforce,and simply decided it was a better deal to substantially reduce or eliminate their work effort altogether.
The Welfare Empire and Family Breakdown
On top of this, many of the War on Poverty programs perversely and unintentionally incentivized family breakdown and having children out of wedlock.The cause of this also comes back to the demographic requirements one must satisfy to qualify for these benefits.
Generally speaking, War on Poverty welfare programs were designed primarily for families with children. If you were able-bodied and have no dependents, you were typically on your own, as most welfare programs are closed to you and you are expected to support yourself.
Therefore, it became advantageous under these programs to have children,which is not necessarily a bad thing in itself. However, the results became disastrous when coupled with a second rule: if the mother was married to a husband who made more than a certain amount of income, the family’s benefits were lost.
In tandem, these two requirements created a situation where having a child out of wedlock became the surest way to generous government benefits.
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation puts it bluntly: “Welfare…converts the low-income working husband from a necessary breadwinner into a net financial handicap. It transformed marriage from a legal institution designed to protect and nurture children into an institution that financially penalizes nearly all low-income parents who enter into it.”
Inevitably, American families broke down. At the beginning of the War on Poverty, the 7% of babies were born to unmarried parents. Today, nearly two in five children are born out of wedlock.
This tragedy has hit the African-American community the hardest. At the outset of the War on Poverty, well over half of African-American babies were born to two-parent families. As welfare programs that penalized two-parent families began to take effect, this rate plummeted. In 1965, the rate of births out of wedlock for African-Americans was 28%. It skyrocketed to 49% in 1975, to 65% in 1990, to about 70% today.
The disaster is not limited to one community. The Caucasian out-of-wedlock birth rate was one in 25 in 1965; it is one in four today. And for white Americans lacking a high school degree, about half of babies are born out of wedlock today.
Poverty and having children out of wedlock go hand in hand. According to the 2010 US Census, the poverty rate for married couples with children was 8.8%,compared to 40.7% for female-headed households with children. The relative rates for Caucasian families were similar: Two-parent households had a poverty rate of 8.4%, while households with unmarried mothers had a poverty rate of 37.8%. In African Americans, the household poverty rate is 12% when both parents are present; it nears 50% when the family is led by a single mother.
A tragic effect of this is that having children out of wedlock begets more poverty. Children raised in single-parent households are seven times more likely to become welfare recipients once they reach adulthood. The cycle of poverty becomes stifling, yet the government continues to incentivize much of the behavior that prevents low-income Americans from breaking free.
Returning to pre-War on Poverty marriage patters would be a key step in alleviating modern day poverty. According to Rector, “if poor women who give birth outside of marriage were married to the fathers of their children, two-thirds would immediately be lifted out of poverty. Roughly 80 percent of all long-term poverty occurs in single-parent homes.”
Winning the War on Poverty: The Success of the 1996 Welfare Reform
But an historic turning point in welfare policy was achieved with the enormously successful 1996 reforms of the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Those reforms, spearheaded by then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, implemented the ultimate welfare policies favored by President Reagan and his long time welfare adviser Robert Carleson, as explained in Carleson's recent posthumously-published book
Government Is the Problem:Memoirs of Ronald Reagan’s Welfare Reformer.
The reform returned the share of federal spending on the AFDC program to each state in the form of a “block grant” to be used in a new welfare program redesigned by the state based on mandatory work for the able bodied. Federal funding for AFDC previously was based on a matching formula, with the federal government giving more to each state the more it spent on the program, effectively paying the states to spend more. The key to the 1996 reforms was that the new block grants to each state were finite, not matching, so the federal funding did not vary with the amount the state spent. If a state’s new program cost more, the state had to pay the extra costs itself. If the program cost less, the state could keep the savings.
To give the states broad flexibility in designing the new replacement program, the entitlement status of AFDC was repealed. As a result, federal mandates imposed on the states were eliminated, with one remaining adopted in the legislation: a requirement for able-bodied individuals to work in order to receive federal aid. The reformed program was renamed Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
The liberal veterans of the Great Society lashed out at the new reforms. New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan billed the legislation as “the most brutal act of social policy since Reconstruction,” and an Urban Institute report predicted that
within years, over a million children would be pushed into poverty.
These predictions could not have been further from the truth, and welfare reform was a historic success. The rolls for the old AFDC program were reduced by two-thirds across the country. States that were most aggressive in implementing strong work requirements saw rolls dropping even more dramatically: Wyoming(97%), Idaho (90%), Florida (89%), Louisiana (89%), Illinois (89%), Georgia (89%),North Carolina (87%), Oklahoma (85%), Wisconsin (84%), Texas (84%), Mississippi(84%). A decade after the reforms in 1996, the percent of the population receiving cash welfare under the TANF system had fallen to 0.1% in Wyoming, 0.2% in Idaho,0.5% in Florida, 0.6% in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, and0.7% in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin.Nationwide,the percentage of American children on AFDC/TANF was reduced from 14.1% in1994 to 4.7% in 2006.
At the same time, because of the resulting increased work by former welfare dependents, the incomes of the families formerly on the program rose by 25%, and poverty among those families plummeted. By 2001, nearly three million children had been lifted out of poverty. Within five years of the passage of the bipartisan reforms, child poverty had dropped by nearly a quarter, child poverty in single-parent households reached an all-time low, and nearly two-thirds of those who left welfare were gainfully employed. Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution reports, “[B]y 2000 the poverty rate of black children was the lowest it had eve rbeen.”
As a result, total federal and state spending on welfare in constant dollars dropped 31% between 1995 (under the AFDC program) and 2006 (under TANF),and down by more than half of what it would have been under prior trends.
Even President Obama, who was opposed to welfare reform at the time, now acknowledges it as a historic reform that lifted millions from poverty. When asked at the Saddleback Church debate in 2008 about the most significant policy position that he has changed his mind on, he replied:
"I think that a good example would be the issue of welfare reform, where I always believed that welfare had to be changed. I was much more concerned ten years ago when President Clinton initially signed the bill that this could have disastrous results. I worked in the Illinois legislature to make sure that we were providing childcare and health care, other support services for the women who were going to be kicked off the roles after a certain time. It had -- it worked better than, I think, a lot of people anticipated. And, you know,one of the things that I am absolutely convinced of is that we have to have work as a centerpiece of any social policy."
This illustrates the entitlement reform theme that through fundamental structural reforms we can achieve the social goals of those programs far more effectively, ultimately serving seniors and the poor far better, at just a fraction of the costs of the current old-fashioned programs.
Expanding the Lessons of 1996 to Dozens of Other Means-Tested Programs
There is a path forward that will liberate millions more Americans from poverty. The question is whether we will continue to rely on the failing and destructive structures of the welfare empire, or we will innovate our way to a new system that promotes growth, implements smart policies that require work, and ultimately creates more wealth and opportunity for everyone.
The 1996 legislation was an unprecedented success, but there are many other areas of the welfare state that are ripe for reform. The same reforms can and should be extended to all of the remaining 184 federal means tested welfare programs (See Appendix A).
The federal welfare bureaucracy would be substantially pared down as control of these initiatives is handed back to the states. It also follows the spirit of the Tenth Amendment in restoring power to the states. Instead of “one size fits all” federal programs, state and local officials will be liberated to innovate and tailor the programs so they are best suited for the needs of their communities.
States would then be free to each completely redesign welfare for their state.But if they would provide assistance to the able bodied only in return for work first,they can completely eliminate the work disincentives of welfare. Moreover, the minimum wage, plus the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), plus the Child Tax Credit are enough by themselves to bring every family out of poverty with full time employment. To the extent each state is successful in finding private work for the poor, the cost of ending poverty would be borne primarily by private employers paying wages in return for work, rather than taxpayers.
Consequently, instead of taxpayers paying the bottom 20% in income not to work, as taxpayers do today, employers would be paying them to work. As a result,the bottom 20% would be contributing to the economy, rather than drawing out of it through public support financed by taxpayers.
Additionally, any individual who cannot find work and collects unemployment benefits (currently a joint state-federal program, with federal taxes paying for a majority of the program) will be required to participate in a job-training program. We can better help these Americans by requiring them to participate in real training programs in private companies, in exchange for temporary unemployment aid.
Our goal is to convert the time and money now lost to a maintenance unemployment program into a human capital investment program that increases the competitiveness of the American worker in the world market in a time of dramatic scientific and technological change.
This program should be delegated to the 50 states so each can experiment with the best way to use unemployment compensation as a job training program.
Through required work, the welfare incentives for family breakup and births out of wedlock would also be eliminated entirely. No automatic benefits would be handed out any longer for bearing a child out of wedlock. If the mother has a child without a husband, then the mother must go to work to support the child.Thus, the new system will instead provide incentives to raise children in two-parent households. Since living together will reduce living expenses that the couple will have to work to pay for in any event, the incentives are for family unification rather than family breakup.
Liberating Low-Income Americans While Fixing Fiscal Challenges
With all the programs of the current welfare empire estimated together to cost $10 trillion over the next 10 years, the resulting savings to the taxpayers would be several trillion just in those first 10 years alone. In his book America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb, Peter Ferrara estimates approximately $3.25 trillion in savings by the federal government and approximately $1.4 trillion in savings by the states over the next decade. Indeed, while substantial costs would remain for a program like Medicaid, the above incentives would likely drive down costs for most of the remaining programs by more than half. But at the same time, poverty in America would decline substantially, with nearly all able-bodied people who can secure employment earning sufficient income to climb above the poverty line.
Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation
This representative has not been identified as sponsoring or cosponsoring significant legislation related to this title.
In August of 2011, Governor Romney participated in the Republican Presidential debate in Ames, Iowa. He is asked if he would sign an extension of unemployment benefits and he states that he would reform the entire system to allow people to create personal accounts for unemployment benefits.
FERRECHIO: Turning to you, Governor Romney, you've suggested replacing government jobless benefits with individual unemployment savings accounts. Jobless benefits for millions of Americans are about to expire in just a few months. If you were president right now, would you extend them?
ROMNEY: We got a lot of people out of work. We got a president that has a entirely failed economic policy and, frankly, doesn't know what to do to get this economy going again. Surely we're going to help those people who can't find other ways to care for themselves.
But the most important thing we're talking about tonight is making sure that President Obama is replaced by someone who knows how to get this economy going again. That's what this debate is really about. And that's what the American people want to understand.
Unemployment benefits, I think they've gone on a long, long, long time. We have to find ways to reduce our spending on a lot of the anti-poverty programs and unemployment programs. But I would far rather see a reform of our unemployment system, to allow people to have a personal account which they're able to draw from as opposed to having endless unemployment benefits.
So, again, let's reform the system, make the system work better by giving people responsibility for their own employment opportunities and having that account, rather than doling out year after year more money from an unemployment system.
FERRECHIO: Just a quick follow. So would you sign a bill to extend unemployment insurance if you were president right now?
ROMNEY: If I were president right now, I would go to Congress with a new system for unemployment, which would have specific accounts from which people could withdraw their own funds. And I would not put in place a continuation of the current plan.
Power for Low-Income Residents
In August of 2006, Governor Perry released a press statement noting that he was acting to reinstate a program through the PUC to provide a 10% discount to qualifying families.
Perry Directs PUC to Restore Program for Low-Income Texans
Agency Should Include System Benefit Fund Restoration in Its Budget Request
Thursday, August 10, 2006 • Press Release
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry has directed the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to include in its legislative budget request the restoration of a program that helps low-income Texans pay utility bills.
“As governor, I remain committed to funding the low-income discount program with the System Benefit Fund,” Perry wrote in a letter to the PUC. “I included funding for low-income customers in the 2005 state budget that I submitted to the legislature. Because the System Benefit Fund is financed through a non-bypassable charge on the bill of each affected customer, the money is specifically dedicated to helping low-income customers. As you know, the electric rate discount program was not funded by the legislature during the current biennium.”
Perry said the PUC should include restoration of the System Benefit Fund (SBF) at the 10 percent level as an “exceptional item” in its legislative appropriations request.
Funding at the 10 percent level means qualifying Texans will receive a 10 percent discount on their electric bills.
It will cost an estimated $76 million in fiscal year 2008 and $82 million in fiscal year 2009 to restore the SBF at the 10 percent level.
“Today, electric prices are higher than they were in 2002 due to the higher cost of natural gas, and although retail competition has resulted in benefit to customers, the low income discount needs to remain a part of the competitive package or the charge should be removed from customers’ bills,” Perry added. “It is unconscionable for the money to be collected and not go to the citizens it was designed to help.”
The SBF was created in 1999 as part of the state’s deregulation of electric rates. It is funded through a charge on the bill of each electric customer in the electric choice area. The amount is set by the PUC and is currently 65 cents per megawatt-hour. Therefore, the “average customer” who uses 1,000 kwhs per month pays 65 cents into the fund each month.
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