This rhetoric is not just overheated – it is flat-out false. Our budget – "The Path to Prosperity" – the safety net by directing more assistance to those who need it most. It provides the chronically unemployed with the incentives and tools they need to bounce back into self-sufficient lives. Most important, it prevents the kind of debt-fueled economic crisis that would hit the poor the hardest.
The House-passed budget directs assistance to those in need by giving more power over federal antipoverty dollars to the states, to be directed by the governors and state lawmakers who are closest to the problem. In doing this, we are building upon the success of the welfare-reform law, which transformed that program into a block grant and gave states more control over its implementation. Washington has been fighting a "war on poverty" for nearly 50 years, yet it is no coincidence that the greatest strides in this effort were made when the federal government gave states the ability to better empower recipients of aid.
Another successful aspect of welfare reform was that it required recipients to either be looking for work or training for work, thus encouraging able-bodied citizens to achieve greater control over their lives. The best welfare program is one that ends with a job and a stable, independent life for the individual, but our budget realizes that it is not enough to provide incentives for work. In addition to a number of measures that promote job creation, the House-passed budget streamlines and strengthens federal job-training programs to help the less-fortunate get back on their feet.
Emulating the bipartisan successes of the mid-1990s will help make federal antipoverty programs stronger and more effective, but that is not enough. There is a key difference between then and now: Today, we face an unsustainable trajectory of government spending that is accelerating the nation toward a ruinous debt crisis.