Welfare Reform and Beyond: The Future of the Safety Net

Brookings Institution Press
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The Brookings Institution's Welfare Reform & Beyond Initiative was created to inform the critical policy debates surrounding the upcoming congressional reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and a number of related programs that were created or dramatically altered by the 1996 landmark welfare reform legislation. The goal of the project has been to take the large volume of existing and forthcoming research studies and shape them into a more coherent and policy-oriented whole. This capstone collection gathers twenty brief essays (published between January 2001 and February 2002) that focus on assessing the record of welfare reform, specific issues likely to be debated before the TANF reauthorization, and a broader set of policy options for low-income families. It is a reader-friendly volume that will provide policymakers, the press, and the interested public with a comprehensive guide to the numerous issues that must be addressed as Congress considers the future of the nation's antipoverty policies. The collection covers the following topics and features a new introduction from the editors: - An Overview of Effects to Date - Welfare Reform Reauthorization: An Overview of Problems and Issues - A Tax Proposal for Working Families with Children - Welfare Reform and Poverty - Reducing Non-Marital Births - Which Welfare Reforms are Best for Children? - Welfare and the Economy - What Can Be Done to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Out-of-Wedlock Births? - Changing Welfare Offices - State Programs - Welfare Reform and Employment - Fragile Families, Welfare Reform, and Marriage - Health Insurance, Welfare, and Work - Helping the Hard-to-Employ - Sanctions and Welfare Reform - Child Care and Welfare Reform - Job Retention and Advancement in Welfare Reform - Housing and Welfare Reform - Non-Citizens - Block Grant Structure - Food Stamps - Work Support System - Possible Welfare Reform in the Cities
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About the author

Isabel Sawhill is vice president and director of the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution. She served as associate director of the Office of Management and Budget. R. Kent Weaver is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. Ron Haskins is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. A former adviser to the President for welfare policy, he spent 14 years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, first as welfare counsel to the Republican staff, then as the subcommittee's staff director. He is the author of Work over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law (Brookings, 2006) and coeditor, with Rebecca Blank, of The New World of Welfare (Brookings, 2002). Andrea Kane is outreach director for the Welfare Reform & Beyond Initiative and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
May 26, 2004
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Pages
228
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ISBN
9780815798828
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare
Social Science / Poverty & Homelessness
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Americans believe economic opportunity is as fundamental a right as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More concerned about a level playing field for all, they worry less about the growing income and wealth disparity in our country. Creating an Opportunity Society examines economic opportunity in the United States and explores how to create more of it, particularly for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose a concrete agenda for increasing opportunity that is cost effective, consistent with American values, and focuses on improving the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. They emphasize individual responsibility as an indispensable basis for successful policies and programs.

The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to create more opportunity in America:

• Increase education for children and youth at the preschool, K–12, and postsecondary levels

• Encourage and support work among adults

• Reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births while increasing the share of children reared by their married parents

With concern for the federal deficit in mind, Haskins and Sawhill argue for reallocating existing resources, especially from the affluent elderly to disadvantaged children and their families. The authors are optimistic that a judicious use of the nation's resources can level the playing field and produce more opportunity for all.

Creating an Opportunity Society offers the most complete summary available of the facts and the factors that contribute to economic opportunity. It looks at the poor, the middle class, and the rich, providing deep background data on how each group has fared in recent decades. Unfortunately, only the rich have made substantial progress, making this book a timely guide forward for anyone interested in what we can do as a society to improve the prospects for our less-advantaged families and fellow citizens.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE GENERAL NON-FICTION 

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
 
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe •  The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg •  Esquire • Buzzfeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch •  Politico •  The Week • Bookpage • Kirkus Reviews •  Amazon •  Barnes and Noble Review •  Apple •  Library Journal • Chicago Public Library • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
Congress must reauthorize the sweeping 1996 welfare reform legislation by October 1, 2002. A number of issues that were prominent in the 1995-96 battle over welfare reform are likely to resurface in the debate over reauthorization. Among those issues are the five-year time limit, provisions to reduce out-of-wedlock births, the adequacy of child care funding, problems with Medicaid and food stamp receipt by working families, and work requirements. Funding levels are also certain to be controversial. Fiscal conservatives will try to lower grant spending levels, while states will seek to maintain them and gain additional discretion in the use of funds. Finally, a movement to encourage states to promote marriage among low-income families is already taking shape.

The need for reauthorization presents an opportunity to assess what welfare reform has accomplished and what remains to be done. The New World of Welfare is an attempt to frame the policy debate for reauthorization, and to inform the policy discussion among the states and at the federal level, especially by drawing lessons from research on the effects of welfare reform. In the book, a diverse set of welfare experts—liberal and conservative, academic and nonacademic—engage in rigorous debate on topics ranging from work experience programs, to job availability, to child well-being, to family formation. In order to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of research on welfare reform, the contributors cover subjects including work and wages, effects of reform on family income and poverty, the politics of conservative welfare reform, sanctions and time limits, financial work incentives for low-wage earners, the use of medicaid and food stamps, welfare-to-work, child support, child care, and welfare reform and immigration.

Preparation of the volume was supported by funds from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Read the critically acclaimed New York Times best-seller with more than one million copies in print. Same Kind of Different as Me was a major motion picture release by Paramount in fall 2017.

Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.

Meet Denver, raised under plantation-style slavery in Louisiana until he escaped the “Man” – in the 1960’s – by hopping a train. Non-trusting, uneducated, and violent, he spent another 18 years on the streets of Dallas and Fort Worth.

Meet Ron Hall, a self-made millionaire in the world of high priced art deals -- concerned with fast cars, beautiful women, and fancy clothes.

And the woman who changed their lives -- Miss Debbie: “The skinniest, nosiest, pushiest, woman I ever met, black or white.” She helped the homeless and gave of herself to all of “God’s People,” and had a way of knowing how to listen and helping others talk and be found – until cancer strikes.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a tale told in two unique voices – Ron Hall & Denver Moore – weaving two completely different life experiences into one common journey where both men learn “whether we is rich or poor or something in between this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless-just workin’ our way toward home.”

The story takes a devastating twist when Deborah discovers she has cancer. Will Deborah live or die? Will Denver learn to trust a white man? Will Ron embrace his dying wife's vision to rescue Denver? Or will Denver be the one rescuing Ron? There's pain and laughter, doubt and tears, and in the end a triumphal story that readers will never forget.

Continue this story of friendship in What Difference Do It Make?: Stories of Hope and Healing, available now. Same Kind of Different as Me also is available in Spanish.

Democratic government is about making choices. Sometimes those choices involve the distribution of benefits. At other times they involve the imposition of some type of loss—a program cut, increased taxes, or new regulatory standards. Citizens will resist such impositions if they can, or will try to punish governments at election time. The dynamics of loss imposition are therefore a universal—if unpleasant—element of democratic governance. The Government Taketh Away examines the repercussions of unpopular government decisions in Canada and the United States, the two great democratic nations of North America.

Pal, Weaver, and their contributors compare the capacities of the U.S. presidential system and the Canadian Westminster system to impose different types of losses: symbolic losses (gun control and abortion), geographically concentrated losses (military base closings and nuclear waste disposal), geographically dispersed losses (cuts to pensions and to health care), and losses imposed on business (telecommunications deregulation and tobacco control). Theory holds that Westminster-style systems should, all things being equal, have a comparative advantage in loss imposition because they concentrate power and authority, though this can make it easier to pin blame on politicians too. The empirical findings of the cases in this book paint a more complex picture. Westminster systems do appear to have some robust abilities to impose losses, and US institutions provide more opportunities for loss-avoiders to resist government policy in some sectors. But in most sectors, outcomes in the two countries are strikingly similar.

The Government Taketh Away is essential for the scholar and students of public policy or comparative policy. It is also an important book for the average citizen who wants to know more about the complexities of living in a democratic society where the government can give-but how it can also, sometimes painfully, "taketh away."

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