Maine Adds Work Requirement to Welfare Benefits, Drops 80% of Able-Bodied Childless Adults
Hidden in a New York Times about welfare is a story of success in Maine having to do with a Republican policy, surprise surprise:
As the economy improves, should states continue waivers that were enacted during the recession to allow healthy adults who are not working to get food stamps longer than the law’s time limit? Maine is one of the states that say no.
Last year, the administration of Gov. Paul R. LePage, a Republican, decided to reimpose a three-month limit (out of every three-year period) on food stamps for a group often known as Abawds — able-bodied adults without minor dependents — unless they work 20 hours per week, take state job-training courses or volunteer for about six hours per week. Maine, like other states, makes some exceptions.
“You’ve got to incentivize employment, create goals and create time limits on these welfare programs,” said Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of health and human services in Maine. She said the measure was in line with Mr. LePage’s efforts to reform welfare.
The number of Abawds receiving food stamps in Maine has dropped nearly 80 percent since the rule kicked in, to 2,530 from about 12,000. This time limit is an old one, written into the 1996 federal welfare law. But, during the recession, most states took advantage of a provision that allows them to waive it when unemployment is persistently high, which meant poor adults could stay on the program regardless of their work status.
No doubt some of the “ABAWDs” are facing tougher times without those benefits, but I think most Americans would expect people under those conditions to seek employment if they can. The Democrats keep telling us that Obama has vastly improved the economy (he hasn’t), but if they think that, then shouldn’t we be paying fewer people to be on welfare?