The United States has spent billions of dollars on anti-poverty programs since their inception. While this investment has helped to reduce material hardship, too many Americans are trapped in a cycle of dependency. Our safety net programs urgently need reforms to help poor Americans live fully self-sufficient lives.
Today, steady job growth, falling unemployment, expanded worker benefits, and rising wages are driving better economic well-being and greater opportunity for all Americans. In fact, historically low unemployment means 6.6 million jobs are currently open. Policymakers should strengthen self-sufficiency for welfare recipients through expanded work requirements.
Americans overwhelmingly support work requirements: A February 2018 poll found that 90 percent of all voters support requiring able-bodied Americans to work, gain training or volunteer at least part-time to receive welfare benefits. And 70 percent of Americans support allowing states to impose work requirements on nondisabled adults as a condition for Medicaid.
Work is good for people: It increases financial security, economic mobility, health, and well-being. It also brings a sense of meaning and dignity. Importantly, work requirements help transition ablebodied people out of government programs, allowing those programs to focus on those who need a safety net most, like the elderly and disabled.