On Saturday, I criticized certain rightwing comments on the 1996 welfare “reform” legislation by noting that the use of welfare caseloads as the metric for judging the alleged success of this program was misleading. Via Mark Thoma we see Robert Reich finishing the thought process that I stopped woefully short of doing:
I keep reading that welfare reform succeeded because welfare rolls were reduced. Of course they were reduced. People were kicked off welfare. How could they not be reduced?
Precisely my point. Of course, Robert put so eloquently what I did not really bother to write. The rest of his post is well worth the read.
Update: A reader of Robert’s blog points us to Michael Tanner praising the 1996 legislation:
Now, with 10 years of experience, we can see that those claims were about as correct as claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Welfare rolls are down. Roughly 2.5 million families have left the program, a 57 percent decline.
But Robert has already devastated the misuse of welfare caseloads to proxy poverty reduction. Tanner later noted that poverty rates in 2004 were lower than they were in 1996. Well DUH! Poverty rates fell a lot during the late 1990’s boom but have been rising since.