Despite prevalent evidence showing the current welfare system does irreparable harm by trapping families and children in a cycle of poverty, presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to save the social safety net from unsustainable and unfulfilled promises is being myopically criticized as a mean-spirited attack on seniors and the poor. Unfortunately for naysayers, the facts are getting in the way of polarizing partisan politics.
Today, more Americans live in economic distress than at any point since the well-intended “War on Poverty” began. Here in Pennsylvania, the poverty rate increased nearly 50 percent over the past decade, through both good and bad economic times.
Undoubtedly, rising poverty didn’t happen because funding was slashed. In fact, it occurred in spite of massive spending increases. Over the past 10 years, Pennsylvania welfare spending grew at twice the rate of inflation and 20 percent faster than taxpayers’ income. For the first time in history, Public Welfare has now eclipsed Education as the largest department in the state budget with more than 40 cents of every tax dollar going to support welfare programs.
It simply begs the question: Why has the welfare state failed so completely?