Safety Net Withers Amid Continuing Crisis

June 4, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — At least half the states have begun to rein in safety-net programs that swelled during the downturn, even as high unemployment and slow job growth persist.  States offer a range of assistance programs such as tax credits for the working poor, unemployment benefits for the jobless and cash for low-income mothers and children. Governors from both parties have begun to make or propose cuts to these programs as they face another year of yawning budget gaps.  The reductions come as the demand for social services remains high but the ability and willingness to pay for them reach their limits.  Some critics of these programs see the cuts as a necessary pullback from the welfare state amid high deficits. But defenders worry about the effect on the needy at a time when the economy is losing steam.”No matter whose vision you’re studying, they all realize we’re going to have less spending,” said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who helped draft the 1996 welfare-overhaul law as a Republican congressional staff member. “There could be more cutting if the economy doesn’t start behaving better.”

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