Category Archives: Welfare

Op-Ed: “The Safety Net is Crucial for Kids”

Chad Stone, The Safety Net is Crucial for Kids, U.S. News, October 13, 2017. [“Government programs like tax credits and SNAP are proven to lower childhood poverty rates.”]


Op-ed: “We’re all for supporting states’ rights, except when it comes to the poor”

Op-ed: Ezra Rosser, We’re all for supporting states’ rights, except when it comes to the poor, The Hill, Sept. 11, 2017. [Covering a decision of the Dept. of Health and Human Services to no longer permit state waivers from TANF work requirements.]

Forthcoming Book: “Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism, and Unequal Politics”

Jamila Michener, Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism, and Unequal Politics, Cambridge University Press. Preface Below:


New Article: “Devolution’s Law: The Case of the TANF Block Grant”

New Article: Andrew Stephen Hammond, Devolution’s Law: The Case of the TANF Block Grant, forthcoming Washington L. Rev. 2017. Abstract below:

Recent scholarship on American federalism lacks case studies to inform that scholarship’s trans-substantive insights and claims. This Article examines the last two decades of devolution brought about by the 1996 Welfare Reform Act (PRWORA). It details the history of PRWORA and how the funding mechanism built into Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — the TANF block grant — guaranteed the program’s deterioration. The article documents the program’s failure to respond to increased need among poor families after Hurricane Katrina and in the Great Recession, showing how the federal government’s use of TANF in both crises teach us the limits of fiscally devolved program. The Article then explores two potential paths forward for TANF as either a devolutionary outlier in social policy or as a harbinger of what is to come from recent Congressional proposals to block grant Medicaid or SNAP (food stamps). Public interest lawyers rightly fear that TANF could be the cutting edge of a newly devolved American safety net. The Article concludes by considering what the cautionary tale of TANF means for scholars of federalism and anti-poverty advocates.

Op-Ed: Joe Kennedy III & Peter Edelman, “Donald Trump’s Budget Cuts Would Leave Many Americans Hungry”

Op-Ed: Joe Kennedy III & Peter Edelman, “Donald Trump’s Budget Cuts Would Leave Many Americans Hungry,” Time, June 29, 2017.

News Article: “Nevada May Become First State To Offer Medicaid To All, Regardless Of Income”

News Article: Alison Kodjack, “Nevada May Become First State To Offer Medicaid To All, Regardless Of Income“, All Things Considered, NPR, June 13, 2017.

New Book: “The Poverty of Privacy Rights”

KBNew Book: Khiara M. Bridges, The Poverty of Privacy Rights (Stanford Univ. Press, 2017). Overview below:

The Poverty of Privacy Rights makes a simple, controversial argument: Poor mothers in America have been deprived of the right to privacy.

The U.S. Constitution is supposed to bestow rights equally. Yet the poor are subject to invasions of privacy that can be perceived as gross demonstrations of governmental power without limits. Courts have routinely upheld the constitutionality of privacy invasions on the poor, and legal scholars typically understand marginalized populations to have “weak versions” of the privacy rights everyone else enjoys. Khiara M. Bridges investigates poor mothers’ experiences with the state—both when they receive public assistance and when they do not. Presenting a holistic view of just how the state intervenes in all facets of poor mothers’ privacy, Bridges shows how the Constitution has not been interpreted to bestow these women with family, informational, and reproductive privacy rights. Bridges seeks to turn popular thinking on its head: Poor mothers’ lack of privacy is not a function of their reliance on government assistance—rather it is a function of their not bearing any privacy rights in the first place. Until we disrupt the cultural narratives that equate poverty with immorality, poor mothers will continue to be denied this right.

The introduction is also available on SSRN here.

New Pathways Issue: “State of the Union 2017”

SOTU_cover_smallNew Pathways : “State of the Union 2017” (Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality 2017). Table of contents below:

Executive Summary
Are our country’s policies for reducing racial and ethnic inequalities getting the job done? The simple answer: No.
Even after the recovery, 1 in 9 African Americans and 1 in 6 Hispanics fear a job loss within one year. Why?
We remain two Americas: a high-poverty America for blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans, and a (relatively) low-poverty America for whites and Asians.
Safety Net
The safety net, which is supposed to serve an equalizing function, sometimes works to exacerbate racial and ethnic inequalities within the low-income population.
Whereas 1 in 6 black and Hispanic households dedicate at least half of their income to housing costs, only 1 in 12 white households do. How did that happen?
Between 1990 and 2015, average academic performance improved for students of all racial and ethnic groups, but grew fastest among black and Hispanic students. The result: White-black and white-Hispanic achievement gaps declined by 15 to 25 percent.
Did you think that all that talk about criminal justice reform has brought about a sea change in racial inequalities in incarceration? Think again.
Large and persistent racial gaps in health are not the product of our genes but the consequences of our policies and history.
Between 1970 and 2010, the earnings gap between whites and other groups has narrowed, but most of that decline was secured in the immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement.
African-Americans have less than 8 cents and Hispanics less than 10 cents of wealth for every dollar amassed by whites.
Intergenerational Mobility
The persistence of poverty has long been stronger for blacks than whites. However, beginning with generations that came of age in the mid-1960s, the white-black gap in the chance of escaping poverty has closed significantly.

Podcast: “What would happen to SNAP if proposed $191 billion cut became law?”

Elaine Waxman and Jonathan Schwabish, “What would happen to SNAP if proposed $191 billion cut became law?“, The Urban Institute, May 30, 2017.

News Article: “Food stamps: a lifeline for America’s poor that Trump wants to cut”

David Smith and Dominic Rushe, “Food stamps: a lifeline for America’s poor that Trump wants to cut“, The Guardian, May 28, 2017.