Vol. 52, No. 2

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In this edition

As Republicans look for ways to lift people out of poverty 22 years after the last major welfare reform bill was approved, The Ripon Forum looks at a recently enacted proposal that is intended to help achieve that goal.

The Greatest Threat to Global Security is Our National Debt

President Trump is rebuilding our military and reengaging with the rest of the world. But if we do not deal with the debt crisis, it will undermine each of these important gains.

City on the Move, City on the Rise

Over the past 14 years, Oklahoma City has transformed itself into a thriving metropolis geared around economic growth and healthy living.

Five Ideas to Make Congress Work

The retirement of Speaker Paul Ryan speaks less to the political headwinds facing Republicans and more to the miserable conditions that many Members of Congress work under.


The best way to fight poverty in America is not through government handouts, but by encouraging investments that will help lift up distressed communities.

The Unfinished Agenda

We must go beyond the confines of thinking that has not only created a massive failed welfare system, but also trapped generations in a cycle of dependency over the past 50 years.

Wisconsin Leads the Way On Welfare Reform

A nine-bill reform package recently signed by Gov. Scott Walker is part of a continuing effort to change the culture of welfare back to what it was originally intended to be — temporary help.

The Youngest Victims of the Opioid Crisis

With more and more Americans falling victim to drug and alcohol addiction, the number of children being placed into protective custody has increased, as well.

The UBI will Help Solve America’s Crisis of Income Insecurity

The economic security provided by a Universal Basic Income would promote entrepreneurship, and provide a cushion against automation-induced job losses in the years ahead.

If You Like Big Government, You’ll Love the UBI

Almost by definition, a Universal Basic Income would vastly increase taxes and government spending because it would require an enormous redistribution of income.

Ripon Profile of Martha Roby

The Representative of Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District talks about her role as a working Mom and her responsibilities as a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Wisconsin Leads the Way On Welfare Reform

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is proving — once again — to be the nation’s leading limited government governor, having recently signed into law the most ambitious welfare reform package introduced anywhere in the country.

Wisconsin Works For Everyone, Walker’s nine-bill welfare reform package, is designed to move people from “government dependence to true independence through the dignity of work.”

Walker’s latest reforms are part of his continuing effort to change the culture of welfare back to what it was originally intended to be — temporary help. The governor has said that welfare should be “more like a trampoline and less like a hammock,” with the end goal being gainful employment and a permanent private sector job. At the same time, Walker has insisted that new taxpayer protections be instituted — like strict time and asset limits — to safeguard these programs for those who truly need them.

Walker’s latest reforms are part of his continuing effort to change the culture of welfare back to what is was originally intended to be — temporary help.

Under the new reforms, the work requirement for recipients of FoodShare, the state’s food stamp program, will be expanded from 20 hours per week to 30 hours, the maximum allowed by the federal government. The requirement will also be expanded to include able-bodied adults with school-aged children — a common sense and groundbreaking expectation of welfare recipients whose children are in school during the day. When your child is in school, you will be expected to spend that time working or taking the training needed for a different career.

The Wisconsin Works For Everyone reforms also place an asset limit on those receiving assistance from a variety of programs, including FoodShare. Participants with a home worth more than 200% of the median statewide home value — $321,000 — will no longer qualify.

That means people like Latasha Jackson — a welfare recipient in Wisconsin who was found to own a million dollar mansion with an indoor swimming pool and basketball court — will no longer be able to scam government assistance programs and cheat taxpayers.

In addition, Walker has implemented new performance-based requirements for vendors in the Wisconsin Works and FoodShare Employment Training programs. Contracts will be judged on the success vendors have in actually reducing welfare rolls and saving taxpayer money, not just shuffling bureaucratic paperwork around.

Some of Walker’s reforms will require federal waivers. For example, Wisconsin recently sought federal permission to implement work requirements in its Medicaid program. As with the FoodShare work requirement, BadgerCare recipients would have to either work part-time or enroll in job skills training.

People who fail to meet the proposed work requirements will have their Medicaid benefits limited to four years. That eliminates an open-ended entitlement bankrolled by taxpayers for people who refuse to work, and is the very definition of a common sense, pro-taxpayer reform.

Fortunately, Wisconsin Republicans have found a willing partner in the Trump administration. Both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture recently sought ideas through the administrative rules process on how the federal government can reduce welfare rolls and move more people to a private sector job.

People who fail to meet the proposed work requirements will have their Medicaid benefits limited to four years.

We could save the country a lot of time and debate if the Trump administration would just borrow all of Governor Walker’s Wisconsin-based reforms and implement them nationally.

President Trump’s willingness to reform welfare and improve the lives of our fellow citizens who need a little help is in stark contrast to the approach of President Obama. Obama’s destructive policies attempted to roll back every single Clinton-era welfare reform, resulting in over 44 million Americans being dependent on food stamps.  Thankfully, President Trump and Governor Walker are working hard to reverse course and change welfare forever.

If Governor Walker’s earliest welfare reform initiative is any indication of future success, then the Wisconsin Works For Everyone package will have a dramatic impact. According to the most recent data from the state Department of Health Services, a new FoodShare work and training requirement implemented in 2016 has helped over 25,000 Wisconsinites gain private employment, and the average wage as well as the average number of hours worked for these participants has steadily increased over time.

Many politicians pay lip service to changing welfare and the culture of dependency. Scott Walker is actually getting it done and changing peoples’ lives forever.

Now that’s a legacy we can all be proud of.

Brett Healy is president of the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a free market think tank based in Madison, Wisconsin.