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August marked the ten year anniversary of the latest alteration to the welfare system. The major change enacted was the substitution of federally managed entitlement cash grants (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) with a federally-funded state-run program of cash grants conditional on work requirements and participation limits (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

Predictably caseloads dramatically fell from 12.2 million people in 1996 to 4.5 million in 2005. Employment and earnings of single mothers increased despite niggardly welfare benefits; child poverty rates slid 20 percent. Notwithstanding these apparent advances, real expenditures on means-tested programs increased by 19 percent between 1996 and 2002 to $522 billion. Measured poverty remains stubbornly high with 40 million people (12.7 percent) in poverty today compared to 36.5 million (13.7 percent) in 1996. Today’s rate is no lower than its 1968 level.

Read the rest here.

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