States are moving to once again require able-bodied adults to put in work hours in exchange for food stamps, after the requirements largely were suspended by the Obama administration.
The slow-moving reversal follows the administration pulling back on Clinton-era changes that required recipients to work for government welfare benefits. Signing the reform bill in 1996 alongside then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, then-President Bill Clinton said the goal was to make welfare “a second chance, not a way of life.”
But during the last recession, President Obama allowed states to suspend a requirement that able-bodied adults without children work at least 20 hours per week or participate in a training program to receive benefits for more than three months.
He allowed recipients to stay on food stamps indefinitely, arguing the three-month maximum was unfair with unemployment at 10 percent.
"Food stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis, Wall Street did," said Obama at this past January’s State of the Union address.
Unemployment today is half of what it was in 2009, yet last year more than 40 states did not require welfare recipients to work.
Kansas was one of the first states to reverse that in 2013.
"I believe most Americans and most Kansans think it's common sense," said Andrew Wiens of the Kansas Department for Children & Families. "These are able-bodied adults without dependents. They don't have children in the home. They're not elderly, they're not disabled. These folks should be working."
Since Kansas reinstated work rules, food stamp rolls dropped by 20,000 and the incomes of those who left increased by 127 percent, Wiens said.
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