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Working families, too, get welfare benefits

The recent editorial highlighting the Cato Institute report that claimed the current welfare system is so generous it discourages people from working could not be more off base.

The Cato Institute's report was not an analysis of the facts, but an ideological piece driven by their dislike of government, taxes, and the poor.

Cato wrongly assumes that non-working families receive every available safety net benefit, while assuming that families with a working parent receive no benefits at all, except for tax credits. But these assumptions are in direct contradiction to the facts.  

Eighty-six percent of children on Medicaid and 87 percent of children on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) have a working parent, while only 16 percent of SNAP recipients and 8 percent of WIC recipients also receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). These are just a few of the flaws in Cato's analysis, and already their conclusion has fallen apart.

Only by ignoring the facts can Cato support their position. Contrary to their ideological beliefs, the programs that Cato is attacking provide important support for working families struggling with low wages.

If Cato were serious about the balance between welfare and work, they would be applauding Obamacare and encouraging states to expand Medicaid, which will make it easier for Medicaid recipients to work without fearing the loss of health insurance.

Sean O'Leary


O'Leary is a policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.


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