Vote Charts
Other Summaries:
Arms Control
Civil Liberties
Death Penalty
Drug Policy
Econ. Inequality
Elec. Dereg.
Gun Control
Health Care
North Korea
Political Reform
Race and Ethnic
Sexuality and Policy
Social Security
Stem Cell Research
Tax and Budget
Tort Reform

The House passed a bill placing a hold until April 2009 on new administration rules that would cut the federal share of Medicaid by $13 billion over five years and leave it up to the states to replace the funds or cut health services to the poor. In part, the new rules concern hospital and nursing-home services, graduate medical education, the placing of retarded children in family settings, and transportation for disabled children. President Bush has threatened to veto this bill. See vote

A hunger problem challenges U.S. as Congress considers new food stamp rules that would allow people to receive more aid.  Some 35.5 million Americans are food insecure, or have cupboards that are sometimes bare, according to the US Department of Agriculture's household food security report released in November.  See story from Christian Science Monitor

In the decade that has passed since the 1996 reforms, the welfare rolls have plummeted by nearly 60%, the first sustained decline since the program was enacted in 1935. Equally important, the employment of single mothers heading families reached the highest level ever. In inflation-adjusted dollars, they were about 25% better off in 2000 than in 1994, despite the fall in their welfare income.  Over the same period, the child-poverty level enjoyed its most sustained decline since the early 1970s; and both black-child poverty and poverty among female-headed families reached their lowest level ever.   In effect, welfare reform made government benefits contingent on work, poor mothers responded appropriately, and the combination of earnings and government benefits have made them less impoverished.  Essentially welfare reform showed that work—even low-wage work—provides a more durable foundation for social policy than handouts.   See Op-Ed Report from Brookings

The 1996 national welfare reform which moved millions of recipients off of welfare and into low paying jobs has not produced the social problems predicted by liberal critics at the time of its enactment. But it has not been an unqualified success either as most former recipients remain in low paying jobs and many have no safety net when they need to find new employment. See story from USA Today

With Medicaid leading the way, spending on entitlement programs for low income Americans has grown an inflation adjusted 22% since 2000. The reasons: expanded eligibility, more participation, and 1996 welfare reform. See story from USA Today

In recognition of the fact that many needy children are being cared for by grandparents, Congress is providing funding based on a successful Boston program. The missing generation in many households traces back to the AIDS epidemic, tougher drug laws, and changes in welfare that some say have made it more difficult for single parents to support their children See story from Christian Science Monitor

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to cut $700 million from the food stamp program as part of a broad bill to reduce federal spending by $50 billion, despite objections from antihunger groups. Under the House plan, roughly 165,000 people who now automatically are enrolled in food stamps when they get assistance from welfare programs would lose their food stamps. The House proposal also would require 70,000 legal immigrants in most cases to wait seven years to become eligible for food stamps, rather than the current five years. See story from Reuters See vote

Proposed legislation to control Medicaid spending is dividing Democrats. Many Democratic governors support the reforms while lawmakers oppose them. See story from Washington Post

The Bush administration approved a sweeping change to Florida's Medicaid plan under which the state sets a ceiling on spending for each recipient. See story from North County Gazette

While welfare cases have dropped more than 50 percent nationally since the federal law took effect (including by more than 70 percent in Maryland, 60 percent in Virginia and 32 percent in the District), studies in several states, including Illinois, Missouri and South Carolina, have found a majority of former recipients struggling with low-paying, often part-time, jobs -- or none at all. See story from Washington Post

While welfare cases have dropped more than 50 percent nationally since the federal law took effect (including by more than 70 percent in Maryland, 60 percent in Virginia and 32 percent in the District), studies in several states, including Illinois, Missouri and South Carolina, have found a majority of former recipients struggling with low-paying, often part-time, jobs -- or none at all. See story from Washington Post

Behind the overcooked vegetables and steam-table pizza that some 29 million American children confront each school day is an industry that rivals defense contractors and media giants in its ability to generate continued federal aid. See story from Education Next

The Senate voted to strip the Bush Administration's proposed Medicaid cuts from the $2.6 trillion budget for next year, jeopardizing the heart of the plan's deficit reduction. See vote

Slated for the single largest cut in the Bush budget, Medicaid is emerging as one of the big battles of the year - and a bellwether for how Washington will cope with an increasing share of the nation's health costs. See story from Christian Science Monitor

Medicaid spending grew about one-third from 2000 to 2003 as job losses and other economic woes made more people eligible for the government-run health insurance program for the poor. See story

Wyoming has reduced the number of people on welfare by a full 90 percent. The national average is 52 percent. A mere 332 Wyoming households now receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) - down from 4,970 households in 1996. But problems remain for those who have left the rolls. Some have landed jobs that don't pay enough. Others are having trouble getting child care. Still others are finding themselves in the worst of both worlds - unable to find work and ineligible for public assistance. See story from Christian Science Monitor  

The State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, which provides coverage for children of working parents with lower incomes, has seen the first decrease in enrollment since it was enacted in 1997. Texas, New York, and Maryland were responsible for 99 percent of the decrease in enrollment. See story from Christian Science Monitor

New studies suggest that current welfare polices are having little effect on encouraging marriage and two-parent families. See story from Christian Science Monitor

After a year of intensive analysis, conversations with professionals, parents, and children, The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care released far-reaching recommendations to overhaul the nation's foster care system. The recommendations call for greater accountability by both child welfare agencies and courts. They give states a flexible, reliable source of federal funding, as well as new options and incentives to seek safety and permanence for children in foster care. Further, they help courts secure the tools, information and training needed to fulfill their responsibilities to children, and help children and parents have a strong, informed voice in court proceedings. See News Release from Pew Commission

Federal investigators have found widespread problems in child welfare programs intended to protect children from abuse and neglect, and no state has received passing grades from the Bush administration in reviews conducted over the past three years. See story

Over strenuous objections from the White House, the Senate voted for a significant increase in money to provide child care to welfare recipients and other low-income families. See story from Washington Post See vote

Medicaid enrollment rose by 1.6 million or 3.9% in 2003, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency responsible for Medicaid. That's about triple the growth rate of the total population and it contradicts predictions that financial problems would force states to slash 1 million people or more from Medicaid. See story from USA Today

Welfare Links

 Yahoo: Full welfare coverage and links

Overview from Public Agenda

Welfare Information Network

The Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth and Family Policies

USA Today Magazine Article on European Welfare Systems

Overview of General Assistance Programs - Urban Institute

NACO Issue Brief - Homelessness

Welfare Reform and Children

Time on Welfare and Welfare Dependency

State Policy Documentation Project (Comparison of State Plans)

Social Security Programs Throughout the World

Cato Institute: The Work Versus Welfare Trade-Off