Social programs in the United States are welfare subsidies designed to meet needs of the American population. Federal and state welfare programs include cash assistance, healthcare and medical provisions, food assistance, housing subsidies, energy and utilities subsidies, education and childcare assistance, and subsidies and assistance for other basic services. Private provisions from employers, either mandated by policy or voluntary, also provide similar social welfare benefits.
The programs vary in eligibility requirements and are provided by various organizations on a federal, state, local and private level. They help to provide food, shelter, education, healthcare and money to U.S. citizens through primary and secondary education, subsidies of college education, unemployment disability insurance, subsidies for eligible low-wage workers, subsidies for housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, pensions for eligible persons and health insurance programs that cover public employees. The Social Security system is sometimes considered to be a social aid program and has some characteristics of such programs, but unlike these programs, social security was designed as a self-funded security blanket—so that as the payee pays in (during working years), they are pre-paying for the payments they'll receive back out of the system when they are no longer working. Medicare is another prominent program, among other healthcare provisions such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Not including Social Security and Medicare, Congress allocated almost $717 billion in federal funds in 2010 plus $210 billion was allocated in state funds ($927 billion total) for means tested welfare programs in the United States, of which half was for medical care and roughly 40% for cash, food and housing assistance. Some of these programs include funding for public schools, job training, SSI benefits and medicaid. As of 2011, the public social spending-to-GDP ratio in the United States was below the OECD average. Roughly half of this welfare assistance, or $462 billion went to families with children, most of which are led by single parents.
In addition to government expenditures, private welfare spending, i.e. social insurance programs provided to workers by employers, in the United States is estimated to be about 10% of the U.S. GDP or another $1.6 trillion, according to 2013 OECD estimates. In 2001, Jacob Hacker estimated that public and private social welfare expenditures constituted 21% and 13–14% of the United States' GDP respectively. In these estimates of private social welfare expenditures, Hacker included mandatory private provisions (less than 1% of GDP), subsidized and/or regulated private provisions (9–10% of GDP), and purely private provisions (3–4% of GDP).
Colonial legislatures and later State governments adopted legislation patterned after the English "poor" laws. Aid to veterans, often free grants of land, and pensions for widows and handicapped veterans, have been offered in all U.S. wars. Following World War I, provisions were made for a full-scale system of hospital and medical care benefits for veterans. By 1929, workers' compensation laws were in effect in all but four states. These state laws made industry and businesses responsible for the costs of compensating workers or their survivors when the worker was injured or killed in connection with his or her job. Retirement programs for mainly State and local government paid teachers, police officers, and fire fighters—date back to the 19th century. All these social programs were far from universal and varied considerably from one state to another.
Prior to the Great Depression the United States had social programs that mostly centered around individual efforts, family efforts, church charities, business workers compensation, life insurance and sick leave programs along with some state tax supported social programs. The misery and poverty of the great depression threatened to overwhelm all these programs. The severe Depression of the 1930s made Federal action necessary, as neither the states and the local communities, businesses and industries, nor private charities had the financial resources to cope with the growing need among the American people. Beginning in 1932, the Federal Government first made loans, then grants, to states to pay for direct relief and work relief. After that, special Federal emergency relief like the Civilian Conservation Corps and other public works programs were started. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration proposed to Congress federal social relief programs and a federally sponsored retirement program. Congress followed by the passage of the 37 page Social Security Act, signed into law August 14, 1935 and "effective" by 1939—just as World War II began. This program was expanded several times over the years.
Economic historians led by Price Fishback have examined the impact of New Deal spending on improving health conditions in the 114 largest cities, 1929–1937. They estimated that every additional $153,000 in relief spending (in 1935 dollars, or $2.2 million in 2018 dollars) was associated with a reduction of one infant death, one suicide, and 2.4 deaths from infectious disease.
Before the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, welfare assistance was "once considered an open-ended right," but welfare reform converted it "into a finite program built to provide short-term cash assistance and steer people quickly into jobs." Prior to reform, states were given "limitless" money by the federal government, increasing per family on welfare, under the 60-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. This gave states no incentive to direct welfare funds to the neediest recipients or to encourage individuals to go off welfare benefits (the state lost federal money when someone left the system). Nationwide, one child in seven received AFDC funds, which mostly went to single mothers.
In 1996, under the Bill Clinton administration, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which gave more control of the welfare system to the states, with basic requirements the states need to meet with regards to welfare services. Some states still offer basic assistance, such as health care, food assistance, child care assistance, unemployment, a few offering cash aid, and one or two offering housing assistance, depending on the state and the circumstance. After reforms, which President Clinton said would "end welfare as we know it," amounts from the federal government were given out in a flat rate per state based on population.
Each state must meet certain criteria to ensure recipients are being encouraged to work themselves out of welfare. The new program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It encourages states to require some sort of employment search in exchange for providing funds to individuals, and imposes a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance. The bill restricts welfare from most legal immigrants and increased financial assistance for child care. The federal government also maintains a contingency $2 billion TANF fund (TANF CF) to assist states that may have rising unemployment. The new TANF program expired on September 30, 2010, on schedule with states drawing down the entire original emergency fund of $5 billion and the contingency fund of $2 billion allocated by ARRA. Reauthorization of TANF was not accomplished in 2011, but TANF block grants were extended as part of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (see Temporary Aid for Needy Families for details).
Following these changes, millions of people left the welfare rolls (a 60% drop overall), employment rose, and the child poverty rate was reduced. A 2007 Congressional Budget Office study found that incomes in affected families rose by 35%. The reforms were "widely applauded" after "bitter protest." The Times called the reform "one of the few undisputed triumphs of American government in the past 20 years." However, more recent studies have found that the reforms increased deep poverty by 130–150%.
Critics of the reforms sometimes point out that the massive decrease of people on the welfare rolls during the 1990s wasn't due to a rise in actual gainful employment in this population, but rather, was due almost exclusively to their offloading into workfare, giving them a different classification than classic welfare recipient. The late 1990s were also considered an unusually strong economic time, and critics voiced their concern about what would happen in an economic downturn.
National Review editorialized that the Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 will reverse the welfare-to-work provisions that Bill Clinton signed in the 1990s, and will again base federal grants to states on the number of people signed up for welfare rather than at a flat rate. One of the experts who worked on the 1996 bill said that the provisions would lead to the largest one-year increase in welfare spending in American history. The House bill provides $4 billion to pay 80% of states' welfare caseloads. Although each state received $16.5 billion annually from the federal government as welfare rolls dropped, they spent the rest of the block grant on other types of assistance rather than saving it for worse economic times.
The following is a short timeline of welfare in the United States:
1880s–1890s: Attempts were made to move poor people from work yards to poor houses if they were in search of relief funds.
1893–1894: Attempts were made at the first unemployment payments, but were unsuccessful due to the 1893–1894 recession.
1932: The Great Depression had gotten worse and the first attempts to fund relief failed. The "Emergency Relief Act", which gave local governments $300 million, was passed into law.
1935: The Social Security Act was passed on June 17, 1935. The bill included direct relief (cash, food stamps, etc.) and changes for unemployment insurance.
1940: Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) was established.
1996: Passed under Clinton, the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996" becomes law.
2013: Affordable Care Act goes into effect with large increases in Medicaid and subsidized medical insurance premiums go into effect.
* Spending in millions of dollars
2.3 Trillion Dollar Total of Social Security, Medicare and Means Tested Welfare is low since latest 2013 means tested data not available but 2013, the "real" TOTAL will be higher.
The Social Security program mainly refers to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, and possibly the unemployment insurance program. Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB), also known as Old-age Insurance Benefits, are a form of social insurance payments made by the U.S. Social Security Administration paid based upon the attainment old age (62 or older).
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is a federal insurance program that provides income supplements to people who are restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability.
Unemployment insurance, also known as unemployment compensation, provides for money, from the United States and the state collected from employers, to workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. The unemployment benefits are run by each state with different state defined criteria for duration, percent of income paid, etc.. Nearly all require the recipient to document their search for employment to continue receiving benefits. Extensions of time for receiving benefits are sometimes offered for extensive work unemployment. These extra benefits are usually in the form of loans from the federal government that have to be repaid by each state.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides stipends to low-income people who are either aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children.
Health care in the United States is provided by many separate legal entities. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by the private sector. Health insurance in the United States is now primarily provided by the government in the public sector, with 60–65% of healthcare provision and spending coming from programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Veterans Health Administration. Having some form of comprehensive health insurance is statutorily compulsory for most people lawfully residing within the US.
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over; to those who are under 65 and are permanently physically disabled or who have a congenital physical disability; or to those who meet other special criteria like the End Stage Renal Disease Program (ESRD). Medicare in the United States somewhat resembles a single-payer health care system but is not. Before Medicare, only 51% of people aged 65 and older had health care coverage, and nearly 30% lived below the federal poverty level.
Medicaid is a health program for certain people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. People served by Medicaid are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, including low-income adults, their children, and people with certain disabilities. Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income in the United States.
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a program administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. The program was designed to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.
The Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services Block Grant (or ADMS Block Grant) is a federal assistance block grant given by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
The Trump administration has decided to cut $9 million in Affordable Care Act subsidies by 2018. This action was taken by use of Executive Order 13813, on October 12, 2017. The initial goal had been for Republicans in Congress to use their majority to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, but they proved unable to do so; therefore, the Trump administration itself took measures to weaken the program. The healthcare changes are expected to be noticeable by the year 2019.
Per capita spending on tertiary education is among the highest in the world. Public education is managed by individual states, municipalities and regional school districts. As in all developed countries, primary and secondary education is free, universal and mandatory. Parents do have the option of home-schooling their children, though some states, such as California (until a 2008 legal ruling overturned this requirement), require parents to obtain teaching credentials before doing so. Experimental programs give lower-income parents the option of using government issued vouchers to send their kids to private rather than public schools in some states/regions.
As of 2007, more than 80% of all primary and secondary students were enrolled in public schools, including 75% of those from households with incomes in the top 5%. Public schools commonly offer after-school programs and the government subsidizes private after school programs, such as the Boys & Girls Club. While pre-school education is subsidized as well, through programs such as Head Start, many Americans still find themselves unable to take advantage of them. Some education critics have therefore proposed creating a comprehensive transfer system to make pre-school education universal, pointing out that the financial returns alone would compensate for the cost.
Tertiary education is not free, but is subsidized by individual states and the federal government. Some of the costs at public institutions is carried by the state.
The government also provides grants, scholarships and subsidized loans to most students. Those who do not qualify for any type of aid, can obtain a government guaranteed loan and tuition can often be deducted from the federal income tax. Despite subsidized attendance cost at public institutions and tax deductions, however, tuition costs have risen at three times the rate of median household income since 1982. In fear that many future Americans might be excluded from tertiary education, progressive Democrats have proposed increasing financial aid and subsidizing an increased share of attendance costs. Some Democratic politicians and political groups have also proposed to make public tertiary education free of charge, i.e. subsidizing 100% of attendance cost.
In the U.S., financial assistance for food purchasing for low- and no-income people is provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. This federal aid program is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but benefits are distributed by the individual U.S. states. It is historically and commonly known as the Food Stamp Program, though all legal references to "stamp" and "coupon" have been replaced by "EBT" and "card," referring to the refillable, plastic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards that replaced the paper "food stamp" coupons. To be eligible for SNAP benefits, the recipients must have incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line, and also own few assets. Since the economic downturn began in 2008, the use of food stamps has increased.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a child nutrition program for healthcare and nutrition of low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five. The eligibility requirement is a family income below 185% of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines, but if a person participates in other benefit programs, or has family members who participate in SNAP, Medicaid, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, they automatically meet the eligibility requirements.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a type of United States federal assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to states in order to provide a daily subsidized food service for an estimated 3.2 million children and 112,000 elderly or mentally or physically impaired adults in non-residential, day-care settings.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, social programs significantly raise the standard of living for low-income Americans, particularly the elderly. The poorest 20% of American households earn a before-tax average of only $7,600, less than half of the federal poverty line. Social programs increase such households' before-tax income to $30,500. Social Security and Medicare are responsible for two thirds of that increase.
Political scientist Benjamin Radcliff has argued that more generous social programs produce a higher quality of life for all citizens, rich and poor alike, as such programs not only improve life for those directly receiving benefits (or living in fear of someday needing them, from the prospect of unemployment or illness) but also reduce the social pathologies (such as crime and anomie) that are the result of poverty and insecurity. By creating a society with less poverty and less insecurity, he argues, we move closer to creating a nation of shared prosperity that works to the advantage of all. Thus, his research suggests, life satisfaction (or "happiness") is strongly related to the generosity of the social safety net (what economists often call decommodification), whether looking across the industrial democracies or across the American states.
Complaints of mistreatment in navigating the welfare state are commonplace, with most unpleasant encounters arising from interactions between welfare recipients and social workers. The dominant approach to social work was casework which emphasized the personal characteristics or moral deficiencies of the recipient rather than social reform. In some cases the said deficiency was grounds for denying assistance. Casework fostered a paternalistic and demeaning relationship between social workers and clients. Caseworkers are the persons who have the post opportunity for showing respect or disrespect to the welfare client. Attitudes of welfare clients toward their caseworkers are described not as much in terms of what they receive in their checks but rather in terms of the relationship that they have with their caseworker; a study found that the way in which a client was shown respect was often more important to the client than what the provider in the situation did to solve the client’s problems.
As such, there has been work in the private and public sector to target the relationships between social worker and welfare recipients as a way to improve access to social provisions and ease the transition from welfare to work. In a study conducted of the association between the relationship held between people with mental health illnesses who are arrested and sent to mental health court with the mental health court (MHC) caseworker assigned to their case and outcomes, researchers found that perceived conflict with caseworkers was higher in a number of participants who were terminated or missing from MHC. Participants who reported less conflict with an assigned caseworker utilized more services and spent fewer days in jail. The study shows the importance a perceived bond has on a participant's use of services, with less perceived conflict resulting in an increase of service use and program retention and decrease in jail time served. Similar results were found in an evaluation of the impact of eleven different welfare-to-work approaches on adults and children in the course of five years. Two programs who had lower enforcement of the participation mandate compared to the other nine, had little to no impact on employment and earnings if its participants. It appears that a minimum level of involvement and enforcement by program staff is required to produce a moderate improvement in employment—without it, participants who would not participate on their own volition would not engage in the program’s activities and reap the benefits from them. Within the same evaluation it was found that programs that appointed one caseworker per person rather than the traditional two, had better outcomes for participants than programs that had assigned two caseworkers per person.
When a social worker demonstrates to her clients by her actions that she respects them, a relationship is able to grow. Clients who feel respected by their social worker will be more likely to freely discuss difficult topics, explore their own contributions, and appoint themselves in efforts to achieve specific outcomes. A client’s perception of their provider’s level of regard for them was significantly related to their ability to achieve a certain outcome at the end of their program.Respect, although important throughout all phases of service, it is particularly crucial to interactions among newcomers or strangers. Such expressions would include vocal sounds (ex. greeting, calling), physical movements (ex. serving, guiding), bodily movements (acknowledging, polite posture), appearance (ex. proper dressing, grooming), and so forth.
When grievances do need be addressed by the welfare beneficiaries, they usually seek the assistance of a lawyer or advocate. Because advocacy is a practice of speaking for the advocate, no matter how “rebellious” they aspire to be, they inevitably perpetuate the same subordination of their client as the system they attempt to combat Lucie White presents this point in her “Goldberg v Kelly On the Paradox of Lawyering for the Poor” and proposes that when lawyers are representing poor welfare recipients, lawyers need to continuously cede to “clients” the power to speak for themselves. Such an act would transform the lawyer from a professional service that is imposed upon subordinated communities to partners that allow clients to take the lead of their own advocacy.
Social programs have been implemented to promote a variety of societal goals, including alleviating the effects of poverty on those earning or receiving low income or encountering serious medical problems, and ensuring retired people have a basic standard of living.
Unlike in Europe, Christian democratic and social democratic theories have not played a major role in shaping welfare policy in the United States. Entitlement programs in the U.S. were virtually non-existent until the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the implementation of the New Deal programs in response to the Great Depression. Between 1932 and 1981, modern American liberalism dominated U.S. economic policy and the entitlements grew along with American middle class wealth.
Eligibility for welfare benefits depends on a variety of factors, including gross and net income, family size, pregnancy, homelessness, unemployment, and serious medical conditions like blindness, kidney failure or AIDS.
The United States adopted the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in 1996, which gave individual states the authority to drug test welfare recipients. Drug testing in order for potential recipients to receive welfare has become an increasingly controversial topic. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina claims he pushes for drug screening as a matter of "moral obligation" and that testing should be enforced as a way for the United States government to discourage drug usage. Others claim that ordering the needy to drug test "stereotypes, stigmatizes, and criminalizes" them without need. States that currently require drug tests to be performed in order to receive public assistance include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.
Some have argued that welfare has come to be associated with poverty. Political scientist Martin Gilens argues that blacks have overwhelmingly dominated images of poverty over the last few decades and states that "white Americans with the most exaggerated misunderstandings of the racial composition of the poor are the most likely to oppose welfare". This perception possibly perpetuates negative racial stereotypes and could increase Americans' opposition and racialization of welfare policies.
In FY 2010, African-American families comprised 31.9% of TANF families, white families comprised 31.8%, and 30.0% were Hispanic. Since the implementation of TANF, the percentage of Hispanic families has increased, while the percentages of white and black families have decreased. In FY 1997, African-American families represented 37.3% of TANF recipient families, white families 34.5%, and Hispanic families 22.5%. As of 2013, the US population as a whole is composed of 63.7% whites, 16.3% Hispanic, 12.5% African-American, 4.8% Asian and 2.9% other races. TANF programs at a cost of about $20.0 billion (2013) have decreased in use as Earned Income Tax Credits, Medicaid grants, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), child nutrition programs, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), housing assistance, Feeding Programs (WIC & CSFP), along with about 70 more programs, have increased to over $700 billion more in 2013.
The Great Recession made a large impact on welfare spending. In a 2011 article, Forbes reported, "The best estimate of the cost of the 185 federal means tested welfare programs for 2010 for the federal government alone is $717 billion, up a third since 2008, according to the Heritage Foundation. Counting state spending of about $210 billion, total welfare spending for 2010 reached over $920 billion, up nearly one-fourth since 2008 (24.3%)"—and increasing fast. The previous decade had seen a 60% decrease in the number of people receiving welfare benefits, beginning with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, but spending did not decrease proportionally during that time period. Combined annual federal and state spending is the equivalent of over $21,000 for every person living below poverty level in America.
In the United States, federal assistance, also known as federal aid, federal benefits, or federal funds, is defined as any federal program, project, service, or activity provided by the federal government that directly assists domestic governments, organizations, or individuals in the areas of education, health, public safety, public welfare, and public works, among others.
The assistance, which can reach to over $400 billion annually, is provided and administered by federal government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through special programs to recipients.Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services Block Grant
The Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services Block Grant (or ADMS Block Grant) was a federal assistance block grant given by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This block grant has been replaced by two separate block grants which cover essentially the same set of services once combined in the ADMS. These are the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (Substance Abuse Block Grant) (42 U.S.C. § 300x–21 et seq) and the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant.Child and Adult Care Food Program
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a type of United States federal assistance provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to states in order to provide a daily subsidized food service for an estimated 3.3 million children and 120,000 elderly or mentally or physically impaired adults in non-residential, day-care settings. It is a branch within the Policy and Program Development Division of the Child nutrition programs, along with the School Programs Branch, which runs the National School Lunch Program. The program is commonly referred to as the Child Care, Child Care Food, Adult Care, or Adult Care Food Program, and is often operating in conjunction with other child and adult day-care programs, such as the Head Start. Its federal identification number, or CFDA number, is 10.558. Section 17 of the National School Lunch Act, and USDA issues the program regulations under 7 CFR part 226.Coalition to Reduce Spending
Coalition to Reduce Spending is a non-partisan political advocacy group based in Alexandria, VA, United States. The mission of the Coalition to Reduce Spending is to advocate for reduced federal spending and balanced budgets. The coalition believes all United States federal spending should be open for reduction.Education in the United States
Education in the United States is provided in public, private, and home schools.
State governments set overall educational standards, often mandate standardized tests for K–12 public school systems and supervise, usually through a board of regents, state colleges, and universities. The bulk of the $1.3 trillion in funding comes from state and local governments, with federal funding accounting for only about $200 billion. Private schools are generally free to determine their own curriculum and staffing policies, with voluntary accreditation available through independent regional accreditation authorities, although some state regulation can apply.
In 2013, about 87% of school-age children (those below higher education) attended state funded public schools, about 10% attended tuition- and foundation-funded private schools, and roughly 3% were home-schooled.By state law, education is compulsory over an age range starting between five and eight and ending somewhere between ages sixteen and eighteen, depending on the state. This requirement can be satisfied in public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. In most schools, compulsory education is divided into three levels: elementary school, middle or junior high school, and high school. Children are usually divided by age groups into grades, ranging from kindergarten (5–6 year olds) and first grade for the youngest children, up to twelfth grade (17–18 years old) as the final year of high school.
There are also a large number and wide variety of publicly and privately administered institutions of higher education throughout the country. Post-secondary education, divided into college, as the first tertiary degree, and graduate school, is described in a separate section below. Higher education includes elite private colleges like Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT, and Caltech, large state flagship universities, private liberal arts schools, historically-black colleges and universities, community colleges, and for-profit colleges like University of Phoenix. College enrollment rates in the United States have increased over the long term. At the same time, student loan debt has also risen to $1.5 trillion.
The United States spends more per student on education than any other country. In 2014, the Pearson/Economist Intelligence Unit rated US education as 14th best in the world. In 2015, the Programme for International Student Assessment rated U.S. high school students No. 40 globally in Math and No. 24 in Science and Reading. The President of the National Center on Education and the Economy said of the results "the United States cannot long operate a world-class economy if our workers are, as the OECD statistics show, among the worst-educated in the world". Former U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. acknowledged the results in conceding U.S. students were well behind their peers. According to a report published by the U.S. News & World Report, of the top ten colleges and universities in the world, eight are American (the other two are Oxford and Cambridge, in the United Kingdom).The US ranks 3rd from the bottom among OECD nations in terms of its' poverty gap, and 4th from the bottom in terms of poverty rate. Jonathan Kozol has described these inequalities in K–12 education in Savage Inequalities and The Shame of a Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America.Great Society
The Great Society was a set of domestic programs in the United States launched by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964–65. The main goal was the total elimination of poverty and racial injustice. President Johnson first used the term "Great Society" during a speech at Ohio University, then unveiled the program in greater detail at an appearance at University of Michigan.
New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, rural poverty, and transportation were launched during this period. The program and its initiatives were subsequently promoted by him and fellow Democrats in Congress in the 1960s and years following. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Some Great Society proposals were stalled initiatives from John F. Kennedy's New Frontier. Johnson's success depended on his skills of persuasion, coupled with the Democratic landslide in the 1964 election that brought in many new liberals to Congress, making the House of Representatives in 1965 the most liberal House since 1938.Anti-war Democrats complained that spending on the Vietnam War choked off the Great Society. While some of the programs have been eliminated or had their funding reduced, many of them, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act and federal education funding, continue to the present. The Great Society's programs expanded under the administrations of Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.Joseph Wallace
Joseph R. Wallace (July 29, 1990 – April 19, 1993) was a two-year-old boy who was murdered by his mother in their Chicago, Illinois apartment in 1993. Wallace's mother, Amanda Wallace, was known to be mentally ill. Despite this, Joseph and his younger brother Joshua were removed from a foster family and returned to Amanda, who killed Joseph with an electrical cord. The circumstances of Wallace's death and the ensuing public outcry precipitated large changes in the Illinois child welfare system and the Cook County juvenile court.In June 1996 Amanda Wallace was convicted of her son's murder. She avoided the death penalty which has been sought by the state of Illinois and was instead sentenced to life imprisonment.Linda Taylor
Linda Taylor (born either Martha Louise Miller or Martha Louise White; c. 1926 – April 18, 2002) was an American criminal who committed extensive welfare fraud and became identified as the "welfare queen". Stories of her activities were used by Ronald Reagan, starting with his 1976 presidential campaign, to illustrate his criticisms of social programs in the United States. Her criminal activities are believed to have extended beyond welfare fraud and may have included assault, theft, insurance fraud, bigamy, the abduction and sale of children, and possibly even murder.New Deal
The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1936. It responded to needs for relief, reform, and recovery from the Great Depression. Major federal programs included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). They provided support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly. The New Deal included new constraints and safeguards on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen sharply. New Deal programs included both laws passed by Congress as well as presidential executive orders during the first term of the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The programs focused on what historians refer to as the "3 Rs": relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy back to normal levels and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression. The New Deal produced a political realignment, making the Democratic Party the majority (as well as the party that held the White House for seven out of the nine presidential terms from 1933 to 1969) with its base in liberal ideas, the South, traditional Democrats, big city machines and the newly empowered labor unions and ethnic minorities. The Republicans were split, with conservatives opposing the entire New Deal as hostile to business and economic growth and liberals in support. The realignment crystallized into the New Deal coalition that dominated presidential elections into the 1960s while the opposing conservative coalition largely controlled Congress in domestic affairs from 1937 to 1964.Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) is a United States federal law passed by the 104th United States Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The bill implemented major changes to U.S. social welfare policy, replacing the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
The law was a cornerstone of the Republican Party's "Contract with America," and also fulfilled Clinton's campaign promise to "end welfare as we know it." AFDC had come under increasing criticism in the 1980s, especially from conservatives who argued that welfare recipients were "trapped in a cycle of poverty." After the 1994 elections, the Republican-controlled Congress passed two major bills designed to reform welfare, but they were vetoed by Clinton. After negotiations between Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Congress passed PRWORA and Clinton signed the bill into law on August 22, 1996.
PRWORA granted states greater latitude in administering social welfare programs, and implemented new requirements on welfare recipients, including a five-year lifetime limit on benefits. After the passage of the law, the number of individuals receiving federal welfare dramatically declined. The law was heralded as a "reassertion of America's work ethic" by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, largely in response to the bill's workfare component. Critics have argued that the law unnecessarily damaged the social safety net, increased the poverty rate, and pushed former recipients into low-paying jobs.Poverty in the United States
Poverty is a state of deprivation, lacking the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. The most common measure of poverty in the U.S. is the "poverty threshold" set by the U.S. government. This measure recognizes poverty as a lack of those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society. The official threshold is adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index.
Most people in the United States will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75. Poverty rates are persistently higher in rural and inner city parts of the country as compared to suburban areas.Estimates of the number of people in the United States living in poverty are nuanced. One organization estimated that in 2015, 13.5% of Americans (43.1 million) lived in poverty. Yet other scholars underscore the number of people in the United States living in "near-poverty," putting the number at around 100 million, or nearly a third of the U.S. population. Starting in the 1930s, relative poverty rates have consistently exceeded those of other wealthy nations. The lowest poverty rates are found in New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota and Nebraska, which have between 8.7% and 9.1% of their population living in poverty.In 2009, the number of people who were in poverty was approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty. In 2011 extreme poverty in the United States, meaning households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits, was double 1996 levels at 1.5 million households, including 2.8 million children. In 2012, the percentage of seniors living in poverty was 14% while 18% of children were. The addition of Social Security benefits contributed more to reduce poverty than any other factor.Recent census data shows that half the population qualifies as poor or low income, with one in five Millennials living in poverty. Academic contributors to The Routledge Handbook of Poverty in the United States postulate that new and extreme forms of poverty have emerged in the U.S. as a result of neoliberal structural adjustment policies and globalization, which have rendered economically marginalized communities as destitute "surplus populations" in need of control and punishment.In 2011, child poverty reached record high levels, with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels. A 2013 UNICEF report ranked the U.S. as having the second highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world. According to a 2016 study by the Urban Institute, teenagers in low income communities are often forced to join gangs, save school lunches, sell drugs or exchange sexual favors because they cannot afford food.There were about 643,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide in January 2009. Almost two-thirds stayed in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program and the other third were living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another place not meant for human habitation. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Around 44% of homeless people are employed. As of 2018, the number of U.S. citizens living in their vehicles because they cannot find affordable housing is on the rise, particularly in cities with steep increases in the cost of living such as Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco.In June 2016, the IMF warned the United States that its high poverty rate needs to be tackled urgently by raising the minimum wage and offering paid maternity leave to women to encourage them to enter the labor force. In December 2017, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, undertook a two-week investigation on the effects of systemic poverty in the United States, and sharply condemned "private wealth and public squalor", declaring the state of Alabama to have the "worst poverty in the developed world". Alston's report was issued in May 2018 and highlights that 40 million people live in poverty and over five million live "in ‘Third World’ conditions."Public housing in the United States
Public housing in the United States is administered by federal, state and local agencies to provide subsidized rental assistance for low-income households. Public housing is priced much below the market rate, allowing people to live in more convenient locations rather than move away from the city in search of lower rents. In most federally-funded rental assistance programs, the tenants' monthly rent is set at 30% of their household income. Now increasingly provided in a variety of settings and formats, originally public housing in the U.S. consisted primarily of one or more concentrated blocks of low-rise and/or high-rise apartment buildings. These complexes are operated by state and local housing authorities which are authorized and funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 1.2 million households currently live in public housing of some type.Subsidized apartment buildings, often referred to as housing projects, have a complicated and often notorious history in the United States. While the first decades of projects were built with higher construction standards and a broader range of incomes and same applicants, over time, public housing increasingly became the housing of last resort in many cities. Several reasons have been cited for this negative trend including the failure of Congress to provide sufficient funding, a lowering of standards for occupancy, and mismanagement at the local level. Furthermore, housing projects have also been seen to greatly increase concentrated poverty in a community, leading to several negative externalities. Crime, drug usage, and educational underperformance are all widely associated with housing projects, particularly in urban areas.As a result of their various problems and diminished political support, many of the traditional low-income public housing properties constructed in the earlier years of the program have been demolished. Beginning primarily in the 1970s the federal government turned to other approaches including the Project-Based Section 8 program, Section 8 certificates, and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. In the 1990s the federal government accelerated the transformation of traditional public housing through HUD's HOPE VI Program. Hope VI funds are used to tear down distressed public housing projects and replace them with mixed communities constructed in cooperation with private partners. In 2012, Congress and HUD initiated a new program called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. Under the demonstration program, eligible public housing properties are redeveloped in conjunction with private developers and investors.Social programs in Canada
Social programs in Canada include all government programs designed to give assistance to citizens outside what the market provides. The Canadian social safety net covers a broad spectrum of programs, and because Canada is a federation, many are run by the provinces. Canada has a wide range of government transfer payments to individuals, which totaled $176.6 billion in 2009. Only social programs that direct funds to individuals are included in that cost; programs such as medicare and public education are additional costs.Social welfare model
A social welfare model is a system of social welfare provision and its accompanying value system. It usually involves social policies that affect the welfare of a country's citizens within the framework of a market or mixed economy.Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly and commonly known as the Food Stamp Program, provides food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people living in the United States. It is a federal aid program, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), though benefits are distributed by each U.S. state's Division of Social Services or Children and Family Services.
SNAP benefits supplied roughly 40 million Americans in 2018. Approximately 9.2% of American households obtained SNAP benefits at some point during 2017, with approximately 16.7% of all children living in households with SNAP benefits. Beneficiaries and costs increased sharply with the Great Recession, peaked in 2013 and have declined through 2017 as the economy recovered. It is the largest nutrition program of the 15 administered by FNS and is a key component of the social safety net for low-income Americans.The amount of SNAP benefits received by a household depends on the household's size, income, and expenses. For most of its history, the program used paper-denominated "stamps" or coupons – worth $1 (brown), $5 (blue), and $10 (green) – bound into booklets of various denominations, to be torn out individually and used in single-use exchange. Because of their 1:1 value ratio with actual currency, the coupons were printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Their rectangular shape resembled a U.S. dollar bill (although about one-half the size), including intaglio printing on high-quality paper with watermarks. In the late 1990s, the Food Stamp Program was revamped, with some states phasing out actual stamps in favor of a specialized debit card system known as Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT), provided by private contractors. EBT has been implemented in all states since June 2004. Each month, SNAP benefits are directly deposited into the household's EBT card account. Households may use EBT to pay for food at supermarkets, convenience stores, and other food retailers, including certain farmers' markets.War on Poverty
The War on Poverty is the unofficial name for legislation first introduced by United States President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on Wednesday, January 8, 1964. This legislation was proposed by Johnson in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent. The speech led the United States Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty.
As a part of the Great Society, Johnson believed in expanding the federal government's roles in education and health care as poverty reduction strategies. These policies can also be seen as a continuation of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, which ran from 1933 to 1937, and the Four Freedoms of 1941. Johnson stated, "Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it".The legacy of the War on Poverty policy initiative remains in the continued existence of such federal programs as Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), TRiO, and Job Corps.
Deregulation, growing criticism of the welfare state, and an ideological shift to reducing federal aid to impoverished people in the 1980s and 1990s culminated in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, which President Bill Clinton claimed, "ended welfare as we know it."Welfare in California
Welfare in California consists of federal welfare programs—which are often at least partially administered by state and county agencies—and several independent programs, which are usually administered by the counties.
The largest California-specific programs are:
MediCal, the California Medicaid program
CalFresh, the California Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP / Food Stamp program)
CalWORKs, the California Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programWelfare queen
"Welfare queen" is a derogatory term used in the United States to refer to women who allegedly misuse or collect excessive welfare payments through fraud, child endangerment, or manipulation. Reporting on welfare fraud began during the early 1960s, appearing in general-interest magazines such as Readers Digest. The term "welfare queen" originates from media reporting in 1974.
Since then, the phrase "welfare queen" has remained a stigmatizing label and is most often directed toward black, single mothers.
Although women in the U.S. could no longer stay on welfare indefinitely after the federal government launched the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 1996, the term remains a trope in the American dialogue on poverty.Welfare state
The welfare state is a form of government in which the state protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of the citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for citizens unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. Historically, late-19th-century Imperial Germany (1871–1918) was the first welfare state, which Chancellor Otto von Bismarck established with the social-welfare legislation that extended the privileges of the Junker social class to ordinary Germans. Sociologist T. H. Marshall described the modern welfare state as a distinctive combination of democracy, welfare, and capitalism.As a type of mixed economy, the welfare state funds the governmental institutions for healthcare and education along with direct benefits paid to individual citizens. Modern welfare states include Germany and France, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the Nordic countries, which employ a system known as the Nordic model. The various implementations of the welfare state fall into three categories: (i) social democratic, (ii) conservative, and (iii) liberal.
|Spending on largest Welfare Programs|
Federal Spending 2003–2013*
|Medicaid Grants to States||$201,389||$266,565|
|Food Stamps (SNAP)||61,717||82,603|
|Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)||40,027||55,123|
|Supplemental Security Income (SSI)||38,315||50,544|
|Child Nutrition Program (CHIP)||13,558||20,842|
|Support Payments to States, TANF||28,980||20,842|
|Feeding Programs (WIC & CSFP)||5,695||6,671|
|Low Income Home Energy Assistance||2,542||3,704|
* Spending in millions of dollars
|79 Means Tested Programs in U.S. (2011)|
|Programs||Federal Spending*||State Spending*||Total Spending*|
|TOTAL cost in (billions) (2011)||$717||$210||$927|
|Social Security OASDI (2013)||$785|
|TOTAL all programs (billions)||$2,286|
|CASH ASSISTANCE (millions)|
|SSI/Old Age Assistance||56,462||4,673||61,135|
|Earned Income Tax Credit (refundable portion)||55,652||55,652|
|Refundable Child Credit||22,691||22,691|
|Make Work Pay Tax Credit (Refundable Portion)||13,905||13,905|
|Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, old AFDC)||6,883||6,877||13,760|
|Foster Care Title IVE||4,456||3,921||8,377|
|Adoption Assistance Title IVE||2,362||1,316||3,678|
|General Assistance Cash||2,625||2,625|
|General Assistance to Indians||115||115|
|Assets for Independence||24||24|
|SCHIP State Supplemental Health Insurance Program||8,629||3,797||12,426|
|Medical General Assistance||6,966||6,966|
|Consolidated Health Center/Community Health Centers||1,481||1,481|
|Maternal & Child Health||656||492||1,148|
|Medical Assistance to Refugees||168||168|
|Food Stamps, SNAP||77,637||6,987||84,624|
|School Lunch Program||10,321||10,321|
|WIC Women, Infant and Children Food Program||6,787||6,787|
|Child Care Food Program||2,732||2,732|
|Nutrition Program for the Elderly, Nutrition Service Incentives||820||139||959|
|Commodity Supplemental Food Program||196||196|
|TEFAP Temporary Emergency Food Program||247||247|
|Farmers' Market Nutrition Program||23||23|
|Special Milk Program||13||13|
|Section 8 Housing (HUD)||28,435||28,435|
|Public Housing (HUD)||8,973||8,973|
|Low Income Housing Tax Credit for Developers||6,150||6,150|
|Home Investment Partnership Program (HUD)||2,853||2,853|
|Homeless Assistance Grants (HUD)||2,280||2,280|
|State Housing Expenditures (from SWE)||2,085||2,085|
|Rural Housing Insurance Fund (Agriculture)||1,689||1,689|
|Rural Housing Service (Agriculture)||1,085||1,085|
|Housing for the Elderly (HUD)||934||934|
|Native American Housing Block Grants (HUD)||854||854|
|Other Assisted Housing Programs (HUD)||496||496|
|Housing for Persons with Disabilities (HUD)||309||309|
|ENERGY AND UTILITIES|
|LIHEAP Low Income Home Energy Assistance||4,419||4,419|
|Universal Service Fund Subsidized Low Income Phone Service||1,750||1,750|
|ENERGY AND UTILITIES TOTAL||6,403||6,403|
|Title One Grants to Local Education Authorities||14,472||14,472|
|21st Century Learning Centers||1,157||1,157|
|Special Programs for Disadvantaged (TRIO)||883||883|
|Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants||740.00||740.00|
|Adult Basic Education Grants||607||607|
Formerly State Student Incentive Grant Program (SSIG)
|Education for Homeless Children and Youth||65||65|
|Aid for Graduate and Professional Study for Disadvantaged and Minorities||41||41|
|TANF Work Activities and Training||2,505||832||3,337|
|WIA Youth Opportunity Grants
Formerly Summer Youth Employment
|Senior Community Service Employment||705||78||783|
|WIA Adult Employment and Training
Formerly JTPA IIA Training for Disadvantaged Adults & Youth
|Food Stamp Employment and Training Program||393||166||559|
|Native American Training||52||52|
|TANF Block Grant Services||5,385||4,838||10,223|
|Title XX Social Services Block Grant||1,787||1,787|
|Community Service Block Grant||678||678|
|Social Services for Refugees Asylees and Humanitarian Cases||417||417|
|Safe and Stable Families||553||553|
|Title III Aging Americans Act||369||369|
|Legal Services Block Grant||406||406|
|Emergency Food and Shelter Program||48||48|
|Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Grants||50||50|
|Independent Living (Chafee Foster Care Independence Program)||140||28||168|
|Independent Living Training Vouchers||45||45|
|Maternal, Infants and Children Home Visitation||36||36|
|CHILD CARE AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT|
|Childcare and Child Development Block Grant||2,984||2,176||5,160|
|Childcare Entitlement to the States||3,100||3,100|
|TANF Block Grant Child Care||2,319||2,644||4,962|
|CHILD CARE & CHILD DEVELOPMENT TOTAL||15,962||6,710||22,671|
|Community Development Block Grant and Related Development Funds||7,445||7,445|
|Economic Development Administration (Dept. of Commerce)||423||423|
|Appalachian Regional Development||68||68|
|Empowerment Zones, Enterprise Communities Renewal||1||1|
|COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TOTAL||7,937||7,937|
|TOTAL in millions (2011)||$717,093||$210,140||$927,234|
|Social Security OASDI (2013)||$785,700|
|TOTAL in millions||$2,287,133|
|Average Incomes and Taxes|
CBO Study 2009*
by Income (%)
Tax rate %3
Taxes Pd. 5
|Source: Congressional Budget Office Study|
1. Market Income = All wages, tips, incomes etc. as listed on Income tax form
2. Federal Transfers = all EITC, CTC, medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), Social Security, SSI etc. received
3. Average tax rate includes all Social Security, Medicare, income, business income, excise, etc. taxes.
4. Net Federal taxes paid in dollars
5. Percent of all federal taxes paid
6. #W = Average number of workers per household in this quintile
7. % Net Income = percentage of all national income each quintile receives after taxes and transfers.
|Characteristics of Households by Quintile 2010|
|Earners Per Household||0.4||0.9||1.3||1.7||2.0|
|Married couples (%)||17.0||35.9||48.8||64.3||78.4|
|Single Parents or Single (%)||83.0||64.1||51.2||35.7||21.6|
|Ages of Householders|
|65 years +||33.1||29.4||20.1||13.9||10.7|
|Work Status householders (%)|
|Worked Full Time (%)||17.4||44.7||61.1||71.5||77.2|
|Worked Part Time (%)||14.3||13.3||11.1||9.8||9.5|
|Did Not Work (%)||68.2||42.1||27.8||17.7||13.3|
|Education of Householders (%)|
|Less than High School||26.7||16.6||8.8||5.4||2.2|
|High School or some College||61.2||65.4||62.9||58.5||37.6|
|Bachelor's degree or Higher||12.1||18.0||28.3||36.1||60.3|
|Source: U.S. Census Bureau|
|Grants & subsidies|
|State & territory|
United States articles
Welfare in North America