What Do Fertility and Football Have to Do with Clinton-Gingrich Welfare Reform? Read This to Find Out

08/18/2022 12:00pm

President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) on August 22, 1996. The act repealed the Social Security Act’s Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and replaced it with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a moralistic and paternalistic program that provides block grants to states. TANF is a poorly designed, failed program with misguided purposes, including the sexual regulation of working-class people, and it needs to be repealed and replaced. 

Welfare Reform as Sexual Regulation 

Number of months after signing PRWORA that President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman: less than 1 month

Number of statutory purposes of TANF: 4

Number of statutory purposes of TANF that relate to promoting marriage or reducing nonmarital fertility: 3 

Number of “nonmarital birth provisions” in TANF according to Congressional Research Service: 14

Federal funds paid to states that qualified for the TANF “Bonus to Reward Decrease in Illegitimacy”: $650 million

Percentage of US births that were nonmarital in 1997: 32 

Percentage of US births that were nonmarital in 2020: 40.5

As TANF Monthly Aid Withered, Food Stamps Stepped Up

Percentage of low-income parents and children eligible for monthly income benefits from AFDC or TANF who received them in 1996: ~ 79 (AFDC)

Percentage who received them in 2008 during the Great Recession: 33 (TANF)

Percentage who received them in 2019: 21.3 (TANF)

Percentage of low-income households eligible for SNAP (food stamps)—a program not block granted in 1996 or subsequently—who received them in 1996: 65.1

Percentage who received them in 2019: 83.8

Amount of the $16.6 billion in federal TANF funds to states spent on monthly benefits to parents and children in 2020: $3 billion 

Amount of federal TANF funds states spent on TANF “program administration” in 2020: $2.3 billion  

Labor and Employment Trends (with Some Canadian Comparisons)

US prime-age (25-54) women’s employment rate in 1996: 72.8 percent 

Canadian prime-age women’s employment rate in 1996: 69.6 percent

US prime-age (25-54) women’s employment rate in 2021: 71.7 percent

Canadian prime-age women’s employment rate in 2021: 78.9 percent

Union membership rate for US women in 1997: 11.6 percent

Union membership rate for Canadian women in 1997: 29.4 percent 

Union membership rate for US women in 2021: 9.9 percent 

Union membership rate for Canadian women in 2021: 31.4 percent 

Percentage of Black men (25-54) with a high school degree or less employed in the US in 1995: 68.4 

Percentage of Black men (25-54) with a high school degree or less employed in the US in 2019: 64.7 

Percentage of Black women (25-54) with a high school degree or less employed in the US in 1995: 57.5

Percentage of Black women (25-54) with a high school degree or less employed in the US in 2019: 61.7 

What Welfare Reform Enabled Mississippi To Do, Or, Are You Ready for Some Football (and Wrestling)!

Amount of TANF funds Mississippi paid to former NFL QB Brett Favre to deliver speeches that he did not deliver: $1,100,000 

Amount of TANF funds paid to Victory Sports Foundation (run by a former linebacker for Mississippi State University) “to conduct free boot camp-style fitness courses for well-to-do community members”: $1,300,000 

Amount of TANF funds paid to retired professional wrestler Brett DiBiase as a salary while he was in Rise in Malibu, a luxury drug rehab program in Malibu, California: $83,000

Monthly amount of TANF funds paid to Rise in Malibu for Brett DiBiase’s five-month stay: $40,000

Maximum monthly TANF benefit in Mississippi for a single low-income parent with one child in 2022: $236

Number of low-income families with children in Mississippi in 2019: 337,371

Number of low-income families with children receiving a TANF benefit on average each month in Mississippi in 2019: 3,203

Number of Mississippi children in foster care in September 2019: 4,011

Monthly foster care payment in Mississippi: $697 to $1,574

Meanwhile in Canada

Annual Canada Child Benefit for a Canadian child living with a parent or caregiver who has no or very low annual earnings: CAD$5,903 to $6,997 ($491.91 to $583.08 month)

Annual US Child Tax Credit for a US child living with a parent or other caregiver who has no or very low annual earnings: $0

More on Clinton-Gingrich welfare reform: 

Even During COVID-19 Recession, Temporary Assistance Does Little to Reduce Child Poverty

COVID-19 and the Importance of Minimum-Income Systems – Center for Economic and Policy Research

Fail Again, Fail Worse: Fewer Families Received TANF Cash Assistance in 2020 than in 2019 

Is TANF Working for Struggling Millennial Parents?

Social Security Does Much More for Disadvantaged Children than Temporary Assistance

Temporary Assistance Doesn’t Help Impoverished Married Parents

The Case Against Marriage Fundamentalism: Embracing Family Justice For All

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