Chapter 19

Social Welfare in the United States

What is Social Welfare?

Social welfare is a concept concerning the well-being of the society as a whole. It more so concerns the quality of life when viewed holistically.

Two Types of Programs

Majoritarian politics benefits most people, and there is no means test. An example of this is Social Security. Client politics benefit few people, and there is a means test. Examples of this include Medicaid and Food Stamps.

What Makes Social Welfare Programs Different in United States?

There are four main factors as to what makes social welfare different in our country. The first factor is that Americans take a restrictive view as to who is deserving of government assistance. Second, America has been slower than other nations to accept the welfare state. Third, the federal government insists that the states and private enterprises play a large role in administering welfare programs. Lastly, non-governmental organizations play a large role.

Welfare Act

Wednesday, Aug. 14th 1935 at 12am

Washington, DC, United States

Washington, DC

The Welfare Act of 1935 was greatly influenced by the Great Depression and the election of 1932 in which FDR was elected to office. There were two types of programs: insurance for the elderly and unemployed, as well as federally funded, state-administered programs. Included Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

Medicare Act

Thursday, July 1st 1965 at 12am

Washington, DC, United States

Washington, DC

The Medicare Act of 1965 added benefits omitted in 1935 to ensure the passage of the Social Security Act. The Democrats supported this bill while the Republicans opposed it.

So What Is the Issue With These Programs?

A key issue with Social Security is that there will soon be more people collecting money than paying in. An issue with Welfare is that this promotes dependence on the government instead of independence.

What Can Be Done?

While many solutions have been proposed, the vast majority of them are met with opposition by the American people. A few of these include raising the retirement age to 70, privatizing Social Security, and lastly combining the aforementioned reforms as well as allowing citizens to invest taxes into mutual funds.

Replacement of Aid to Families with Dependent Children

Eventually, AFDC lost political legitimacy in that many recipients were deemed undeserving by the public. AFDC was replaced by Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). This program limited how long families can receive federally funded programs, and by 2003, welfare caseloads had declined by 60%.

What Are Some Present Day Examples?

Today more so than ever, Social Welfare is a hot topic amongst politicians. An example of this is the struggle over who should and who should not receive welfare, and for how long. Also, the unemployment rate in a economy on the rise from a recession is a key issue. Many are questioning how long unemployment should be collected for, and what the requirements should be in order to collect.

Vocabulary

Majoritarian politics: A policy in which almost everybody benefits and almost everybody pays (508).


Client politics: A policy in which one small group benefits and almost everybody pays (508).


Charitable Choice: Name given to four federal laws passed in the late 1990s specifying the conditions under which nonprofit religious organizations could compete to administer certain social service delivery and welfare programs (510).


Insurance program: A self-financing government program based on contributions that provide benefits to unemployed or retired persons (513).


Assistance program: A government program financed by general income taxes that provides benefits to poor citizens without requiring contribution from them (513).


Means test: An income qualification program that determines whether one is eligible for benefits under government programs reserved for lower-income groups (513).


Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): A provision of a 175 law that entitles working families with children to receive money from the government if their total income is below a certain level. The program was expanded in the early 1990s (517).


Service strategy: A policy providing poor people with education and job training to help lift them out of poverty (519).


Income strategy: A policy giving poor people money to help left them out of poverty (519).


OASDI (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance): Monthly payments to retired or disabled people and to surviving members of their families; another name for Social Security.


Medicare: Federal government pays for part of the cost of medical care for retired or disable people covered by Social Security.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Cash payments to aged, blind, or disabled people whose income is below a certain amount.


Food stamps: Vouchers, given to people whose income is below a certain level, that can be used to buy food at grocery stores.


Medicaid: Pays medical expenses of persons receiving TANF or SSI payments.


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): Payments to needy families with children; replaced the AFDC program.


Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC): Former federally funded program that made payments to poor families with children.

QUIZ

1. Name two factors that make social welfare different in the United States than opposed to other countries.


2. What event in the early to mid 1900s influenced the Social Welfare Act of 1935?


3. What party supported the Medicare Act of 1965?


4. What is a problem on the rise when it comes to Social Security?


5. What is one of the proposed fixes for the Social Security problem?


6. How much had Social Welfare caseloads declined since the passing of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program in 2003?


7. Name one present day example of Social Welfare in America.


8. Service strategy is a policy providing poor people with __________ and job training to help lift them out of poverty.


9. An insurance program is a self-financing government program based on contributions that provide benefits to unemployed or __________ persons.


10. A means test is an income qualification program that determines whether one is __________ for benefits under government programs reserved for lower-income groups.