TANF Results in Dramatic Decrease in Welfare Dependence
September 9, 2011
Ronald Reagan believed that it is a moral and fiscal imperative to target limited public resources to those truly in need. He sought to end the federal incentives for states to increase their welfare populations. His goal was realized in 1996 when the open-ended Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program was repealed and replaced with a system of finite block grants to the states through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. This revolutionary change in the structure of welfare freed millions from government dependence and has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Welfare dependence dropped from 12.2 million individuals in 1996 to 4.4 million in 2010. The undisputed success of reversing the incentives for states to increase dependence is a testament to the career of Bob Carleson, who in 1971 first advocated block-granting welfare to then-Governor Reagan.