Impact of the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill
The Welfare Reform Bill signed by President Bill Clinton on 22 August 1996 marked the end of the cash entitlement under the Social Security Act. This was replaced by parallel grants that were meant for supporting the less fortunate who were in turn required to put in effort so as to move from extreme poverty by finding something to sustain them. They were also required to observe the rate at which they involved themselves in extra marital affairs leading to early parenthood before marriage. The other grant was to help families in the welfare by managing their children since their financial abilities were not enough to sustain them and the children. In the new reforms, several welfare provisions were limited to their recipients’ especially non-residents and disabled children who were regarded to be in that state due to their young ages. Other policies limiting individuals such as extra marital births were passed to reduce overindulgence in these acts (Harris 309).
Though termed as historic, the bill led to increased chronic dependency for individuals who preferred having a job than receiving funds in terms of welfare at the end of each month which was not enough to meet their needs as well as contribute to the economy of the nation. The bill did not effectively support the independence of individual in terms of making personal choices and accessing employment opportunities. Its intend seemed to create more harm to the poor than good after its full implementation due to its stand on barring a large number of legal immigrants who had inhabited the United States for a longer period and were previous beneficiaries of the Social Security fund such as the disabled, aged and children whose relatives were working.
From the view of it all, Clinton intended to stop welfare despite the consequences that would come thereafter. Initial legislations requiring each individual to be working by the time the bill was being enacted cleared presented his viewpoint of the whole issue (Reintsma 130). His utterances didn’t offer alternatives for individuals who couldn’t find work and how they would facilitate their survival in the long run. The proposal of a lifetime limit for the family welfare and the idea of block grants meant that no specific individual was guaranteed assistance from the state making it the main determinant of who was to be assisted and to a larger extend violating the constitution.
The lack of consideration of other unpredicted factors and proposing the allocation of a fixed funding for each state annually was also wrong on the part of the government of the day and to a larger extend the bill that the President had assented. Families had been receiving financial aids for over six decades now making it part of their entitlements. The idea of block grants having time limits and the lack of consideration of families who had properly observed the legislations set up by the law were ill intended. Considering the opposition the bill had received from various legislators most notably, Senator Edward Kennedy who termed it as an act of child abuse, regardless of this Clinton saw that this was just the usual opposition from the Republicans who had strategized against him terming him as a hypocrite (Reintsma 130).
The denial of security income to existing immigrants as well as Medicaid and welfare and other programs from the federal state was somehow oppressive with the fact that most of the immigrants were in the country legally. About 800,000 immigrants initially benefitted from the Supplementary income which was abolished in the reforms (Barkan 1506). Homelessness also arose since immigrants who lacked the ability to work and be regarded as citizens were not be able to sustain their life or remain in their residential homes due to lack of aid. Inclusion of food-stamp and other takes for immigrants meant more reduction in their income. The cuts on food-stamps initially aided the poor since it did not base on the status of the family but rather the need of the individual.
The cut-offs imposed to immigrants and the cuts on food stamp with the reforms on welfare lack justification and unclear policies. The most affected are children who have physical and psychologically unfit because they can barely meet the set conditions. The decision to cut nutrition programs for children has also led to a reduction of the foods nutrients for food in the day cares coupled up by reduction of social services by the federal government (Harris 309). The vital role the social services department played was downplayed by reducing a quarter of its funding meaning some of its functions couldn’t be carried out. The only inclusion is the federal child-support program which does not produce a true representation depending on the needs of the people.
According to the new bill, needy families were to be aided; however the forms of support were not clearly outlined such as financial assistance. There is no clear description on the way the government would engage the needy. This leaves loopholes that may become risky in the days to come. Initially, individuals who felt unsatisfied by decisions to stop them from getting help could easily seek an explanation from the courts. This was however not possible in after the reforms since there were no provisions.
Since the whole reform bill was mostly concentrated around welfare, measures to solve the loopholes in relations to individuals’ being would be an important solution in improving the reform to suit the people’s needs. Extra funding for the states would mean more employment opportunities, subsidization of the wages and increase in retention services. Increasing the time limit for a certain percentage depending on the family status because children, who are in this case the vulnerable, were at the centre of contention and any negative action would lead to more suffering on their side. Another major change would be on the grant funds. Reduction of the amount transferable from the grants to states would enable states decide on whether to put additional funds to the grant depending on the number of beneficiaries they were responsible for (Barkan 1506).
All other rights including processing of assistance applications would have been granted to states easing procedural processes and enabled clarity. Addition of other factors in regard to welfare such as health care and improvement of child care after the set limit would greatly contribute to the bill making it solve some of the fundamental problems that were being experienced. All in all undermining the rights of children were more evident in this bill making it lack substantive hope for the future generations. Intersection of people’s responsibility is also an important factor since the society is dependent on one another therefore the vice of isolation shouldn’t be part and parcel of the society. It’s upon the leadership to put up sufficient laws essential to enable peaceful co-existence.
Barkan, Elliott R. Immigrants in American History: Arrival, Adaptation, and Integration. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.
Harris, Marian S. Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Internet resource.
Reintsma, Mary. The Political Economy of Welfare Reform in the United States. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2007. Internet resource.