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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Even More on Welfare Reform

Writing about Donald Sterling, Michael Tomasky is the latest Democrat to irritate me by conceding that, yes Republicans had a point about AFDC and welfare reform was good.

He wrote

Now it’s certainly the case that Democrats and liberals have made mistakes over the years. The conservative critique of welfare policy in the 1980s had a considerable amount of merit, and the welfare-rights movements of the left were horribly self-marginalizing and self-defeating. So welfare certainly created a dependency problem, and for some families (though far fewer since Clinton enacted the overhaul), it still does. But that’s one policy.
I comment

On welfare and welfare reform, I note that the rate of deep poverty (less than half the poverty line) repeatedly set new records recently. The costs of welfare reform have been huge. The case that old welfare created dependency is I think weak even though it is widely accepted.

There is very strong quasi experimental evidence that access to food stamps caused higher female high school graduation rates and reduced a reasonable index of dependency

What was particularly bad about AFDC ? By the way, do you know that V "Concerned that some states were promoting family break-ups by limiting cash assistance to only single-parent families, Congress passed the Family Support Act of 1988, which required all states to provide assistance to intact families through the AFDC Unemployed Parent program (AFDC-UP)."

how about

"The major empirical finding is that contrary to the hopes of Congress, a state's provision of a UP program is not found to encourage two-parent families." That's about as close as one can get to a convincing test of a plausible argument for why AFDC might have effects opposite the documented effects of food stamps.


Thornton Hall said...

There are all sorts of terrible things associated with this mistake, but one overlooked one is that by making AFDC the example, we miss housing policy.

No matter how you slice it, the Robert Taylor Homes were a liberal mistake. And it lives on today with various restrictive zoning plus command an control schemes that cap the available affordable housing (by design) and the award it to select few by lottery.

eric said...

Thank you! This drives me crazy too.