SIMMONS: Government dependency is just wrong

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What’s wrong with you people?

Welfare is not a black thing, and it’s not a single-mom thing.

American-style welfare is a host of programs that the colonies originally imported from the Brits to give a handout and a hand up to poor folks. Unfortunately, the 1929 stock crash, Great Depression and two world wars exacerbated our nation’s economic problems and highlighted the hand-to-mouth straits facing ordinary Americans.

Today, the welfare system is a plethora of programs including Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, Medicare and other health-care subsidies, food stamps, housing subsidies, and feeding programs in schools. The Women, Infants and Children program, commonly known as WIC, targets pregnant women and young children.

Employment programs are wrapped into the welfare bundle as well, helping to hand out big public bucks to organizations and businesses that espouse job training and counseling programs. There are also handouts for clothing, transportation and day care.

We have a moral obligation to help the truly needy.

But dependence on government help can become a drug. When hustlers find loopholes, they also find it easier to get paid by pretending they are in search of self-reliance rather than getting out there, pounding the pavement and trolling the Internet to secure a job.

The intent of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act was to weed out the great pretenders and irresponsible people by actually leading welfare recipients to jobs by capping benefits at 60 months, whether continuous or interrupted, and offering states and localities the opportunity to be creative about defining the term “work.”

The Obama administration’s decision to change the rules of the welfare game has D.C. officials and other advocates of welfare dependency dancing, singing and making merry like Christmas.

That dadgum D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray is hustling, too, and is on record proving as much. He has said welfare benefits for people who have been on the rolls longer than 60 months will continue “to ensure we are reforming the system the right way and ensuring we are helping people reach full self-sufficiency.”

But the law stipulates “personal responsibility,” not “full self-sufficiency.” Moreover, nothing — n-o-t-h-i-n-g — the government can do could ever lead to an individual’s “full self-sufficiency.”

Mr. Gray is acting like a tattered lawn jockey whose perch on the White House lawn should have been struck long ago.

Former President Bill Clinton at least pretended he could lean right.

What’s wrong with these people? It’s their views on welfare dependency.

What can be done about it? Flip the script.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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