What is social welfare policy? Social welfare policy is a term used for many different government programs which are designed to provide people with protection against want and deprivation, plus to improve their health and physical well being, to provide educational and employment training opportunities, and in other words to enable them to lead more satisfactory, meaningful, and productive lives. Chapter 17 in my American Government Continuity And Change book is titled Social Welfare Policy.
The chapter goes over three major points. The points being: The roots of Social Welfare Policy, The Policy-Making Process and Social Welfare Policies Today. The roots of social welfare talks about how most of the social welfare programs in the United States are largely a product of the twentieth century, but their origins can be traced far back into the nations past. Back into the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It talks about Income Security, National Health Insurance and Public Education.
The next point is The Policy-Making Process which goes over the seven stages of the public policy process which are Problem Recognition and Definition, Agenda Setting, Policy Formulation, Policy Adoption, Budgeting, Policy Implementation, and Policy Evaluation. And the last major point which I picked to examine in my paper is Social Welfare Policies Today. That goes into today’s Income Security, Health Care, and Public Education. One of the topics in Social Welfare Policies Today is income security.
What income security programs does is protect the people against loss of income due to retirement, disability, unemployment, or death or absence of the family income maker. Studies in 1998 showed that a family of four with a gross yearly income of $13,656 or less was recognized as falling below the federal poverty line. There are two general categories for income security. There are non-means-based programs that are programs such as social security where benefits are provided irrespective of the income or means of recipients.
And there are means-tested programs that require that people must have incomes below specified levels to be eligible for benefits such as food stamps. In the non-means-based program there is a program called Social Security. The way Social Security works is that workers pay taxes that go directly to providing benefits for retirees. A payroll tax of 7. 65 percent on the first $62,700 of wages or salaries is paid by the worker and another 7. 65 percent is paid by the employer onto the Social Security trust fund. People are eligible to receive retirement benefits at age sixty-five.
If you retire earlier at age sixty-two you will receive a reduced benefit. Expenditures for Social Security have greatly increased during the last couple of decades, because the number of beneficiaries is growing and they are living longer. More than 40 million people, including some 3 million workers with disabilities, currently receive benefits. This is what makes Social Security the national government’s largest entitlement program. In 1993 the fund had a $46. 8 billion surplus. But it’s expected to be broke by 2032 because the ratio of workers to retirees will decline as baby boomers hit retirement age.
There goes my Social Security. In 1998 senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York proposed that workers should have the option of depositing up to 2 percent of their wages on a personal retirement account which would complement but not replace the existing Social Security system. He called for other changes as well like increasing retirement age to sixty-eight by 2023, and to age seventy by 2073. Another program is unemployment insurance. The unemployment insurance program pays benefits to covered workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, such as being laid off during a recession.
Unemployment insurance covers employers of four or more people, but not part-time or occasional workers. Benefits are paid to unemployed workers who have neither been fired nor quit their jobs and who are willing able to accept suitable employment. We now get into means-tested programs. These programs are intended to help the needy, that is, individuals or families whose income fall below specified levels, such as a percentage to the official poverty line. In this category there are programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Food Stamps.
AFDC in the early 1930’s offered cash assistance to mothers (mostly widows) with dependent children. But in 1950 AFDC was expanded to include not only dependent children but also mothers themselves or other adults with whom dependent children were living. When AFDC first started it was small because there were few unmarried mothers in 1935. But since then it has expanded greatly due to increasing numbers of children born to unwilling mothers, the growing divorce rate, and the migration of poor people to cities. Now most families covered by AFDC are headed by single mothers.
In 1988 congress passed legislation to reform AFDC. Titled the Family and Child Support Act, the law seeks to move people off welfare and into productive jobs. The way that works is that each state must operate a Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program to provide education, training, and job experience for members of welfare families. By early 1992 some 500,000 persons were participating in the act’s education and training programs. During the 1992 campaign, President Clinton pledged to “end welfare as we know it,” and the Republican majority in the 104th Congress also moved to tackle the welfare problem.
Most teenage mothers would no longer be eligible for benefits and some bills would prohibit increasing assistance to families that had additional children while on welfare rolls. Also most adults on welfare would have to enroll in a job-training program within two years or find a job. In 1996 President Clinton agreed to landmark legislation that swept away the New Deal covenant that guaranteed assistance to the poor. The new bill would bring to an end the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program that had provided monthly cash to millions of children.
The AFDC was replaced by a system of block grants. Some of the features of the welfare plan included: (2) a provision that unmarried mothers under the age of eighteen were required to live with an adult and attend school in order to receive welfare benefits, (3) a five-year lifetime limit for aid from block grants, (5) cutting off food stamps and Supplemental Security Income for legal immigrants, and other features. The bill passed by an overwhelming margin. The welfare bill was hailed as the biggest shift in social policy since the Great Depression.
The Food Stamp program from 1939-1943 was primarily an effort to expand domestic markets for farm commodities. In 1961 a $381,000 pilot program began under Kennedy administration. It was made permanent in 1964 and extended nationwide in 1974. Benefiting poor and low-income families, the program has helped to fight hunger and reduce malnutrition. In 1996 food stamps went to more than 25. 5 million beneficiaries at a cost of $22. 4 billion. Another issue in social welfare policies today is health care. One of the programs is Medicare.
Medicare which covers persons receiving Social Security benefits, is administrated by the Health Care Financing Administration in the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Medicare coverage is split into two components, Parts A and B. Benefits under Part A come to all Americans automatically at age sixty-five, when they qualify for Social Security. Part A covers hospitalization, some skilled nursing care, and home health services. But individuals have to pay about $700 in medical bills before they are eligible for Part A benefits.
Part B which is optional, covers payment for doctors, services, outpatient and diagnostic services, x-rays, and other items not covered in Part A. In 1996 the cost was $42. 50 a month for the optional Part B. Medicare has become a costly program because people live longer, the elderly need more hospital and doctor’s services, and medical care costs are rising rapidly. Spending has grown enormously in the Medicare program from $37. 5 billion in 1980 to $203. 1 billion in 1996. Another program is Medicaid. Medicaid came in at the same time Medicare did.
The difference is the Medicaid program provides comprehensive health care, including hospitalization, physicians service, prescription drugs, and long-term nursing home care unlike Medicare. Medicaid is for those who qualify as needy under AFDC and SSI. In 1996 Medicaid served 36. 1 million people at a cost of $121. 7 billion. The last issue in Social Welfare Policies Today is public education. States and local governments funded public education. State government involvement has grown during the twentieth century and at present it is the largest source of public school funding.
What state education departments control are curricula, textbook selection, graduation requirements, eligibility for extracurricular activity, and teacher and administrator certification. The school districts are responsible for construction and maintaining school buildings, hiring teachers, transporting students, operating school lunch programs and designing educational programs. In 1995 national, state, and local governments in the United States spent almost $287 billion on public education.
Of this amount, 48 percent came from the state, 45 percent from the local, and 7 percent from the national government. In 1988 President George Bush and the nation’s governments agreed to a program called Goals 2000 to improve the nation’s schools. Also education programs may have contributed to the dramatic reduction in crime rates in the 1990’s. Three initiatives commonly cited for their contribution toward reducing crime include: shock incarceration programs, increased prison construction and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (DARE).
Project DARE was developed in 1984 as a joint effort between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District. By the early 1990’s the DARE program was hailed as a success and offered in over 450 cities throughout the United States. In my concluding thoughts I think we have major problem with Social Security because if by the year 2032 it’s going to be all gone then we are all going to get into major problems because there won’t be any money left for when we retire, and what are we suppose to live off of.
Talking about the AFDC I believe that there is many people out there are taking advantage of it, they just don’t want to work, I think the government should crack down on those people and make them work if not take there benefits away, we work why can’t they. They should also crack down on people who are unlawfully receiving benefits when they shouldn’t, like there using a fake Social Security number to receive benefits even though they don’t qualify for them.
I don’t think it’s right to cut off food stamps and Supplemental Security Income to legal immigrants, they are here legally and they pay taxes just like everyone else does so why can’t they receive the same benefits everyone else does. I think Health care is very important and those programs should continue especially with the outrageous cost for just a doctor’s visit never less an operation. And public education is also a huge issue because those children are our future. They need to educate and prepare the student’s for the what is to come, they need to focus more in school safety and getting weapons 100 percent out of schools.