Ed Kilgore Faces Facts about Welfare Reform

Ed Kilgore’s thought develops as he finally faces facts.

He wrote

It is entirely unsurprising that Paul Ryan and his many supporters have been advertising the [skip]in his budget proposal as the greatest thing since the Clinton-era welfare reform legislation. What is surprising is that some progressives seem to be going along with the characterization in order to grind some old axes about the 1996 act.

There was a big Sunday New York Times piece by Jason DeParle conflating the plight of “the poor” with those of the single unwed mothers affected by state-level reductions in cash assistance under the TANF program (the post-1996 name for the old Aid to Families With Dependent Children program, a.k.a. “welfare”).


Ezra Klein takes a different tack in suggesting that welfare reform’s record is an accurate yardstick for how the Ryan budget might work out: since Ryan (and for that matter, in his own proposal, Mitt Romney) wants to turn Medicaid, food stamps and other safety-net programs into state-run block grants, it’s important to look at how states have cut TANF to see how they might handle these other programs.

Ezra’s right about that, but like Paul Ryan, he’s mixing apples and oranges: TANF costs and caseloads were intended to go down in no small part because the other safety net programs, along with the extremely important earned income tax credit (EITC) were intended to pick up the slack.

so EITC expansion was part of welfare reform and critics of welfare reform are grinding old axes stuck in 1996 when they discuss poverty in the USA right now.

I assert that in this post he called Jason DeParle and Ezra Klein objectively pro Ryanist left deviationists.

Now he is basically saying they were right (see after the jump). I think that what we have here is a huge gap between perceptions which matter for politics and reality which matters for decent policy. Welfare reform is much loved both by most of the general public and by almost all of the very serious people. It is also a disaster.

Later he wrote

Indeed, we were about the only people in the non-technical chattering classes who seemed to understand the distinction between the Clinton administration’s philosophy of welfare reform (aimed at getting welfare recipients into private-sector jobs, not just through work requirements but with robust “making work pay” supports like an expanded EITC, which was enacted at Clinton’s insistence well before welfare reform) and that of congressional Republicans (House Republicans were mainly concerned about punishing illegitimacy and denying assistance to legal immigrants, while Senate Republicans enacted a bill that was just a straight block grant that let states do whatever they wanted so long as they saved the feds money).

Also note the recognition of uh like time and calenders and stuff

“expanded EITC, which was enacted … well before welfare reform”. Wow the man has noticed that 1993
My oh my it seems that by August 7 2012 criticisms of the 1996 welfare reform bill were no longer Paul Ryan serving old ax grinding eh. Why exactly is DeParle’s article on current events in Texas stuck in 1996 old ax grinding while this post is forward looking discussing of what shits Republicans were in 1996 (in writing the bill signed into law by Bill).

Now we have come full circle. Playing into Paul Ryan’s hands has become

Beyond everything I’ve already said about this ad, I’d also note Harold Pollack’s fine post today at Ten Miles Square about the realities of TANF,

he quotes with approval

Right now, states are often rewarded for simply cutting recipients off, or for other activities that do not successfully place recipients into stable jobs. The Obama administration is granting waivers to do better. Under the July 12 memorandum, states must “explain in a compelling fashion” why their proposed approaches would provide “more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs” which “will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits…..”
More generally, these Romney commercials warn us about a nonexistent problem: The supposed excessive generosity of cash assistance for poor families with children. The most pressing welfare problem is quite different: We’re neglecting millions of low-income families who need help. The number of Americans in poverty increased by ten million between 1996 and 2010. Unemployment among low-income single moms has correspondingly grown. Yet TANF serves a progressively declining share of children living in economic need. When welfare reform was enacted, 68 American families received AFDC/TANF benefits for every 100 families with children in poverty. By 2010, only 27 did.

So can anyone explain to me how the “really fine post today at Ten Miles Square”
differs from the old ax grinding od DeParle and Klain.

I think that Kilgore has finally recognised that he was wrong wrong wrong and that DeParle and Klein were just describing reality as reality based entities recognise that it really is, I think he owes them a HUGE apology.