Nation can't afford rising welfare costs

Saturday, February 13, 2016

As the Presidential season continues to unfold, the discussion centers on all sorts of national worries from the Middle East to punishing Wall Street for not paying their fair share or some such baloney.

There is ample discussion on just how to pay for the free college that some candidates dream of. And there is the constant drumbeat of income inequality and how to balance the playing field.

But nary a word is spoken about the trillion dollars - that's right, a trillion dollars - spent each and every year on a host of welfare programs in this nation.

The Dems are quick to cut defense spending by a billion or so dollars but are adamant about increasing not decreasing the money spent on welfare assistance.

A bill designed to cut welfare fraud passed a hurdle in the Missouri Legislature this week and is likely to find final approval in the coming weeks.

The Missouri effort is designed to verify if those receiving some form of taxpayer assistance are indeed eligible.

The truth about welfare spending is that the federal government is highly unlikely to tackle the issue. It will then be up to the individual states.

There's a great example of how Maine - of all places - decided to get tough on welfare eligibility and it should serve as a national model.

Maine legislators said that if you are a childless welfare recipient and are able to work, you will no longer receive welfare benefits unless you are seeking employment, in a job training program or attending school.

No exceptions.

Work-capable adult recipients between 18-49 who do not have children must meet this new work requirement.

And the result?

How about an 82 percent reduction in welfare benefit costs for the state after the first year of the program.

Welfare abuse can be found in each and every federal program but the explosion of growth has come to the front in the food stamp program.

Nationally the number of food stamp recipients has risen from 17.2 million in 2000 to 45.8 million last year.

This election year the outlay for food stamps in this country will top $100 billion for the first time.

When Barack Obama removed the work component from welfare payments in 2009, the program exploded.

But have you heard this discussion in the campaign? Has any candidate of either party waded into the politically-sensitive topic?

If any candidate spoke honestly on the subject, the nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps would rise in opposition and the election would be history.

But when the campaign dust clears, someone is going to have to be honest and say this nation can no longer afford to spend a trillion dollars each year to provide for many who can provide for themselves.

Missouri legislators are on the right path toward reform. They can also look to Maine as an example of a common sense approach that works.

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