LIMA — The legislative schedule may be light this year, according to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, but he is still hopeful to put forward some “bold ideas,” including taking a “tough love” approach to able-bodied welfare recipients.
“I’d love to see us focus on a work requirement in our social welfare system,” he said during an interview with The Lima News, which is a sister paper of the Sidney Daily News. “That’s something I hear all the time from constituents around the district. We want to help those who truly need help, but there should be a work component.”
For Jordan, including this requirement would encourage more people to forego public assistance altogether and become self-sufficient members of the workforce.
“Maine just passed a simple six-hour work requirement for food stamp recipients if you’re an able-bodied adult,” he said. “They have, I believe, cut their food stamp population by about 80 percent, all because people are saying, ‘Look, if I have to get a work permit, I’m just not going to sign up. I’m going to go get a job,’ which is exactly what you want.”
The need for welfare reform is very great, Jordan maintained, saying that the number of food stamp recipients has ballooned from 18 million to 47 million during the Obama administration. While Jordan did not have the particulars of his proposed legislation with him, which he hopes to have introduced this year, he said it does not take a large work requirement to see results.
“It doesn’t take a lot to create the incentive you want, based on what we’ve seen,” he said. “We like to be generous, and we’re the most generous country on the planet, but there’s a value in work, and we need to incentivize work.”
Along with fostering incentives to work, Jordan said there should be a coordinating effort to help those receiving recipients get the skills to succeed in the workforce.
“Those are almost always part of our welfare structure,” he said. “I think there are 79 different, means-tested social welfare programs, and a bunch of those are in education, a bunch are in health care, a bunch are in job training and a bunch are in nutrition. One of the themes that we need to develop long-term in our welfare reform approach is instead of having these four silos, maybe you can combine them into one. It is more efficient and much better at helping families get to a better station in life.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.