(Natural News) In the mid-1990s, the Republican-led Congress and President Bill Clinton worked together to pass a significant welfare reform program that was dubbed "Workfare."
Known formally as the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act," it essentially required anyone receiving welfare benefits to find work and take a job in order to keep getting assistance.
Not only that, the assistance was time-limited; the goal of the law was to move people off welfare completely and into the workforce.
"The law contains strong work requirements, a performance bonus to reward states for moving welfare recipients into jobs, state maintenance of effort requirements, comprehensive child support enforcement, and supports for families moving from welfare to work — including increased funding for child care and guaranteed medical coverage," said a description by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw its requirements.
Left-wing Democrats and their media mouthpieces hated the law and nitpicked it incessantly because they view dependency on government as an electoral strength.
But by any measure of Workfare's true intent — transforming formerly reliant Americans into citizens independent of government — the law was a success. As the Heritage Foundation noted in 2012, Workfare reduced welfare caseloads by half as employment rates among welfare recipients "soared."
When Barack Obama took office, however, he gutted the law's work requirement by exempting states from the law's work requirements. As Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at Heritage's domestic policy studies department, noted in 2012 in The Washington Post, "the Obama administration has jettisoned the law's work requirements, asserting that, in the future, no state will be required to follow them. In place of the legislated work requirements, the administration has stated, it will unilaterally design its own "work" systems without congressional involvement or consent. Any state will be free to follow the new Obama requirements 'in lieu of' the written statute."
The Left attacked Rector as being wrong and intentionally so. He wasn't; after all, he helped craft the 1996 Workfare legislation.
As a result of Obama's change in the statute, welfare rolls spiked upward again, which was totally predictable. From 2009-2012, CNS News reported, federal and state welfare assistance had grown by nearly 20 percent, approaching $1 trillion annually for all 79 means-tested programs. (Related: Disgusting: Welfare recipients may soon shop online for clothes using your tax dollars.)