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Wed Oct 31, 2012, 02:27 PM

Putting a Face on Welfare Spat


WSJ 10/30/12

MINNEAPOLIS—Latisha Cunningham, an unemployed 30-year-old, carries an activity log in her pink backpack so she can document every hour she spends in temporary work, looking for jobs or at community college. If she is missing signatures from a teacher or doesn't have the right mix of activities, she could lose the $437 a month she receives in cash assistance. If the state doesn't have the right documentation for her, it could lose federal funding for its welfare program. Counselors say that assembling the paperwork is so time-consuming that helping her land permanent employment takes a back seat to perfecting her time sheet.


Officials in the human services department of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, informally asked the federal Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year if they could be judged by a new measure, such as the number of people the state helped become self-supporting. Two states with Republican governors—Nevada and Utah—also expressed interest in having more flexibility.

In July, the Obama administration offered all governors the chance to seek waivers. That prompted an outcry from Republican lawmakers, who called the move a veiled attempt to weaken the program's goal of moving people off welfare. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney aired television ads accusing President Barack Obama of gutting the work requirement. The fight has deterred any state from formally seeking a waiver.


Still, federal officials said that, despite initial interest, no states have sought a waiver. Lucinda Jesson, Minnesota's commissioner of human services, said she thought "long and hard" about applying but decided against it. "I just didn't think getting in the middle of a political firestorm helped move our policy forward," she said.


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Reply Putting a Face on Welfare Spat (Original post)
question everything Oct 2012 OP
oysterbay Apr 2013 #1

Response to question everything (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 03:48 PM

1. Yes, the rules are mond-boggling

Recently I was reading a similar post which led me to a Michigan state website with the guidelines, and they are complicated, confusing, convoluted, and the compliance process (crossing the t's and dotting the i's) is onerous.

There are minimum time requirements, certain activities are required, certain activities are allowed (qualify as meeting certain requirements), some activities are not allowed (may be helpful to reaching self-sufficiency but are not counted toward meeting requirements), some may be used to fulfill Column B requirements but not Column A requirements. Some activities are a Core Activity, some are not. Working at a menial dead-end job (job experience!) is valued more highly than going to school to learn a valuable skill. You have to be a highly trained bureaucrat and think very imaginatively to make sense of it all.

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