On August 22, 1996, President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, replacing Aid to Families with Dependant Children with TANF as the national welfare program for needy Americans. Fifteen years later, the truth is that TANF has shredded the safety net. It has been a disaster for poor families, the majority of whom are headed by single mothers. Benefit receipt has fallen from three-fifths of poor children pre-reform to just one-fifth of poor children post-reform, and benefit amounts have plummeted to less than five dollars a person a day in most states. The shriveled safety net condemns millions of women and children to poverty so extreme that many are deprived sufficient food, housing, and utility services. Inaccessible or inadequate TANF aid has been shown to deter domestic violence victims from fleeing their abusers.
It's time for us to stop trying to save this tattered and torn safety net and start finding ways to ensure that our government takes care of all its citizens. In a country that has more then enough to go around, children should not have to live on the streets and women should not have to beg for scraps from the local welfare department.
For 15 years single mothers have jumped through the welfare hoops. These hoops that get higher and harder with each new round of elected politicians. It is ridiculous what is required of a mother just to get a few dollars to pay rent and feed her children.
As part of the social contract, every citizen is guaranteed subsistence. No one should have to humiliate themselves and cow down to bureaucratic injustice just to survive. No one should have to do without in this land of plenty.