Trump Signs Welfare Reform Executive Order

Melanie Arter | April 11, 2018 | 12:32am EDT
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( - President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at welfare reform.

The president’s welfare reform plan calls for addressing the challenges of people who may find it hard to find and keep jobs, including single parents, ex-convicts, the homeless, substance abusers, the disabled, and “disconnected youth.”

Trump’s Executive Order on Economic Mobility focuses on ways to increase job opportunities for those in need by “strengthening current work requirements; empowering States, localities, tribal governments, and private-sector entities to serve individuals and families in need; and using taxpayer dollars for their intended purpose, which includes ensuring only eligible persons receive benefits.”

“Federal policies should allow local entities to develop and implement programs and strategies that are best for their respective communities,” the executive order stated. It calls for policies that “allow the private sector, including community and faith-based organizations, to create solutions that alleviate the need for welfare assistance, promote personal responsibility, and reduce reliance on government intervention and resources.”

The executive order provides nine “Principles of Economic Mobility” for agencies to follow when reforming public assistance programs:

  • improve employment outcomes and economic independence;

  • promote marriage and family as a way of escaping poverty;

  • address the challenges of hard-to-employ populations;

  • provide more flexibility to States, while ensuring accountability for achieving outcomes;

  • streamline services to more effectively use taxpayer resources;

  • reserve benefits for those truly in need;

  • consolidate duplicative programs;

  • facilitate greater sharing of information between States and localities; and

  • empower the private sector to find solutions to poverty.

Trump’s executive order calls on federal agencies that administer public assistance programs to “review all regulations and guidance documents relating to work; ensure such regulations and documents are consistent with the principles for reform; send a report to the President on what they can do to get Americans back to work; and take steps to implement such recommendations.”

The White House noted that welfare enrollment is at an all-time high despite near-record low unemployment. Furthermore, it said that adding or enforcing a work requirement for able-bodied adults who receive welfare is an effective solution for empowering Americans to become independent.

States that have commonsense work requirements for welfare recipients see positive results, the White House said.

In Kansas, for example, after the state implemented work requirements for able-bodies, childless adults on food stamps, caseloads dropped by 75 percent and the average amount of time on welfare was cut in half. Also, thousands of welfare recipients went back to work in more than 600 industries.

In Maine, incomes for able-bodied adults with no kids in 2014 increased 114 percent in one year, the White House noted.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Trump’s executive order reaffirms “that now is the time to face our poverty challenge head-on and it starts by developing our workforce.”

“This is one of the best economic environments we’ve seen in years, yet businesses are having a hard time finding qualified workers. Combining work requirements with work supports is an effective strategy for helping Americans move from welfare into the labor force, as proven by states like Kansas and Maine. But that’s just the start,” Ryan said.

“We also need to ensure that we’re measuring—and responding to—the effectiveness of programs so they best serve those they were designed for. We need to put families first, and give more power back to the states so they can adapt to their unique situations,” he said.

“Perhaps what’s most important is that we prioritize empowering the individual, and ensure that the American Idea is available for anyone who wants to chase it. I look forward to continuing our work here in the House and with the Trump administration to get us one step closer to that reality,” the speaker said.

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