It's time to address welfare dependence

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In a nation blessed with abundant opportunities for all, we seem to spend an enormous amount of time focused on those who rely on taxpayer assistance.

America's charity - which is based largely on our Christian foundation - has always marked the compassion of our generous nation.

Politicians talk with gusto about the all-important middle class. But when it comes to policy, the focus is always on those in need.

For example, the primary discussion on overhauling health care centers largely on those unable to provide for their own medical care.

The Planned Parenthood funding argument centers largely on providing health care services in poor neighborhoods where other options are limited.

One of the driving arguments against voter ID laws is the claim that low-income voters will lack access to sign-up for the state-mandated identification.

And here in Missouri, despite an unprecedented outlay for food assistance to the needy, we're still told that over 600,000 Missourians claim food insecurity at least once a year.

So while the political mouths speak of the middle class, their actions increasingly focus on the low-income population - often at the expense of the middle class.

The central question remains the same throughout all of these discussions - how do you provide for the truly needy while weeding out those who game the system for their own benefit?

If we could identify and eliminate those who are ineligible, our discussions on government assistance would likely end.

And let's be honest, despite some doomsday claims by some, no one on either side of the political aisle wants to remove any assistance from those truly in need.

But the definition of "truly in need" is the source of disagreement.

In a government welfare system that has grown massive over time, we have created a reverse incentive to accept government aid instead of working.

The liberal response is to increase federal welfare funding and expand the ever-growing safety net.

The conservative response is to assure that only those truly in need benefit from the sacrifices of others.

So how did we get to the point where our dependent population has exploded and our taxpayer outlay has grown to provide for those in need?

Well, the Obama administration eliminated the highly successful policy of implementing work requirements for able-bodied welfare recipients.

And bureaucrats seem to find it easier to approve welfare payments than to assure those payments are appropriate.

And there are physicians who willingly approve highly questionable disability claims.

But the root of the problem on addressing the expansion of welfare is politicians who rely on that dependent population to swap their vote for continued assistance.

It's obvious that welfare abuse is costly, it's wrong and it's out of control.

Yet the solution remains elusive.

Unless addressed, one day this house of cards will collapse.

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