(BigGovernment.news) For any politician who is really serious about ending generational welfare, they need to take a page from the playbook of rock-ribbed, outspoken conservative Gov. Paul LePage of Maine.
As noted by the Washington Examiner, the policies have been so successful LePage is ready to proclaim his state as a model for the rest of the country.
In 2010 and 2014, LePage ran on a platform of reforming welfare largely by targeting abuse and dependency on government programs, both as a way to bolster productivity in the state but also as a means of saving the state money.
In the fall of 2014, LePage followed up on his pledge by putting in place new work requirements and other rules for those receiving food stamps. Adults who were not physically impaired and could work, and who did not have children, are required to work at least part-time, take part in job training or volunteer with a firm or charity to receive food stamps.
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The results have been no less than dramatic: The number of healthy adults without dependents receiving food stamps fell more than 90 percent over the previous year – from 13,589 to just 1,206 by mid-November.
“We have to make sure that our focus is on food stamps and other welfare programs being a last resort, not a way of life, and that we’re promoting employment,” said Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
Most of those receiving benefits either got jobs or figured out it wasn’t worth meeting the food stamp requirements, she suggested, but she added that so far the state remains unclear about that.
Still, LePage’s goal was to promote self-sufficiency that comes with having a job and to change the culture of her department and the state, Mayhew added.
Maine is “an example of how a work requirement promotes work and self-sufficiency over welfare,” said Rachel Sheffield, a poverty analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.
“You don’t want to cut anybody off,” Sheffield added, point out that assistance is available for people who want to work.
What many conservatives really want is to just see a reversal of the loosening of work requirements on the federal level for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, that was implemented by President Barack Obama in his 2009 stimulus bill. Republicans say that changed the program from being one that provided relief from malnutrition and poverty to an income-support program that has ballooned to 45 million beneficiaries, a number that hasn’t fallen even though unemployment has dropped.
Obama looks at the explosive growth of the program as any socialist would – as a success. In December, the president’s Council of Economic Advisors “touted research showing that food stamps help lift families out of poverty and in the long run improve health and even education.”
While few would doubt that food assistance is of great benefit to the working poor, the point of SNAP was always to provide that assistance to working adults – not to become a replacement for work, as it has now, in many cases.
“When you speak to someone whose life has been transformed through employment, it is so incredibly powerful to understand that getting a cash benefit or a handout is not going to change, ultimately, their future,” Mayhew said.
Gainful employment promotes individuality, freedom of choice and liberty, but such qualities are anathema to someone like Obama who hawks government as the end-all, be-all of human existence. Mainers are lucky to have a governor who understands that the former is true, not the latter.
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