Making good on the tenants of an under-reported speech he gave before Christmas in which he called on Republicans to reconsider their relationship with their fellow Americans, Utah Sen. Mike Lee has rolled out a bold and thought-provoking proposal for the reform of welfare that would curb the program’s something-for-nothing status. And it has nothing to do with being punishing or hostile, but is instead based in helping recipients gain a sense of self-worth and purpose.
“To many Americans today,” Lee said in his December speech, “especially to the underprivileged and middle-class, or those who have come of age or immigrated since Reagan left office, the Republican Party may not seem to have much of a relevant reform message at all.”
Lee picked up that theme Wednesday when he introduced his plan.
“Poverty is not just the absence of money, but also the absence of opportunity. 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, and we need to move current policy in that direction. The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act will give all low-income Americans the opportunity to earn a good living and build a good life.”
Here’s the thumbnail from Lee’s office.
Strengthens work requirements for all able bodied, work-capable adults receiving SNAP benefits.
36 hours per month for individuals without dependents;
72 hours per month for individuals or couples with dependents;
Incentivizes states to comply with work requirements through a phased–in performance measurement system.
Rewards states with a grant equal to one-quarter of the savings
Penalizes states by diminishing funding over time for not meeting requirements
Requires the federal government to report all means-tested welfare spending, including state and local governments, and report estimated levels over the next decade
Phases in a cap on total means-tested welfare spending that is adjusted yearly with inflation
Phased in to 2007 levels over 3 years
What it does:
Restores and improves work incentives for individuals and families
Improves state administration of welfare programs
Incentivizes states to transition beneficiaries from welfare to work
Creates greater transparency in means-tested welfare spending
Saves $2.5 trillion over 10 years
Lee’s proposal has three cosponsors, GOP senators Ted Cruz, David Vitter and Jim Inhofe. The Right Stuff can imagine one of Florida’s senators signing on, but not the other. Care to guess who’s who?
Thanks for the alert, Jim Geraghty.