Carper to Talk Welfare Reform at the White House

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Carper will tell President Bush at the White House this Tuesday that increases in work requirements must be accompanied by the commitment of real resources if efforts to improve welfare reform are to succeed. Carper and Senator Evan Bayh’s “Work and Family Act” includes the same tough work requirements as the President but provides more support for childcare; offers more flexibility and resources to states; and does not implement new work standards until those resources are offered. “Our ultimate goal must be to help those on welfare achieve independence, not set states and families up for failure. We share a goal of getting people off of welfare and into the workforce. But states need more resources and greater flexibility to use them,” Carper said. “President Bush’s proposal is only half a solution because it raises the bar without giving states or families the tools to reach it. We need to set the bar high, but help states achieve.” In raising the work participation rate to 70% and encouraging a full 40-hour workweek, the Bayh-Carper welfare reform plan is similar to the President’s. However, it differs fundamentally from his plan by giving states the resources and flexibility they need to meet the tougher targets. Some areas of difference:

  • Bayh-Carper allocates an additional $8 billion in childcare funding to enable parents with small children to enter the workforce. Work requirements would not increase unless that money is provided. The President’s plan provides no additional childcare funding to meet these higher targets.
  • Bayh-Carper retains the current provision that families with children under six be required to work only twenty hours per week. The President requires that they work forty hours.
  • Bayh-Carper includes a flexible and creative employment credit that rewards states for moving welfare recipients into jobs, with extra credit for moving them into higher paying jobs. It replaces the existing caseload reduction credit which simply credits states with reducing their caseload without ensuring that people are successfully moving into jobs.