ON-Lion Letter
Under President Barack Obama, spending on America's welfare programs -- such as food stamps, Medicaid, and income support -- has exploded.  Surprisingly, as proven by David J. Armor and Sonia Sousa in an article in the Fall 2012 issue of National Affairs, that growth has not been driven by an increase in the number of poor Americans.

Today, according to Armor and Sousa in "Restoring a True Safety Net," most beneficiaries of our "anti-poverty" programs are in fact living above the federal definition of poverty, and in some cases well above it.

Armor is a professor emeritus of public policy at George Mason University.  Sousa is a post-doctoral research fellow there.

"The key to controlling our swiftly growing welfare programs is to think in terms of the purpose and not just the size of government," they write.  "The idea that anti-poverty programs should help those who are poor is so obvious as to be a tautology.  And yet ... this is not at all how our federal anti-poverty programs work today.

"By bringing these programs into line with their original, stated aim -- providing a safety net for people who are actually poor or who have serious disabilities -- enormous budget savings can be realized," Armor and Sousa continue.

"And because our massive debts put all federal programs in danger," they conclude, making reasonable reductions "will actually put our welfare programs on more sustainable long-term footing.  In so doing, it will also preserve a true safety net for Americans in need."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports National Affairs.
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