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Friday, July 7th, 2017

Jordan stops to talk welfare reform

U.S. rep meets with employees at St. Marys factory

By Sydney Albert
ST. MARYS - U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, met with Setex Inc. employees on Thursday as part of a tour through his district to share information and curry favor for his bill, the Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act.
Jordan said the biggest change would be the addition of work requirements for benefits such as food-stamp programs.
"Right now, the way it's done is states get a waiver to impose work requirements," he said. "States aren't required to have a work requirement. We want the requirement to be there."
Work requirements were part of a welfare reform law in 1996; however, the Obama administration issued a directive that declared states no longer needed to comply with the law's work standards, he said.
"So we've had some time-limit components, work requirements in the past, and there's still work requirements for, I think in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) where states have to demonstrate for half the population there's some kind of work component. We think it should apply across the board," Jordan said.
The work requirements would be for able-bodied adults, with and without dependents, though adults with dependents would be able to work less and still have access to benefits.
"So if you're a mom with a couple children, you wouldn't have 100 hours a month, you'd have 50 hours a month. If you've got a newborn, there's a grace time in our legislation," Jordan said.
The current bill also would require able-bodied adults without dependents to participate in a supervised job search for at least eight hours a week. In an effort to promote work, such adults may also be presented with opportunities to participate in "an activity selected by the state," which Jordan says can include volunteer work.
"What happens is … when there's something you have to do to get the benefit, a lot of people will say, 'I'll forgo the benefit and I'll just get a second job or go get a job.' You know, they'll do something else, which we think is more productive. And there's studies that show over time those people do better. … You look at where they're at a year later and they're making more money than they would have been, than they were when they were under the food-stamp program," Jordan continued.
Setex plant manager Owen Whittington said a particular concern locally is a lack of both temporary and full-time workers. After talking with Jordan, he believes the reform has the potential to "filter down" and incentivize people to work.
"An able-bodied person should be incentivized to work, as opposed to being incentivized to stay at home," Whittington said.
Jordan said that welfare reform is a way to help everyone.
"It helps employers who need more employees, it helps the overall federal treasury, saving money there, but overall it helps people get out of welfare and get to a better life. We think it's an important piece of legislation," he said.
The bill calls for additional information to be reported concerning means-tested welfare spending both at the federal and state levels; adding a work preparation program for TANF recipients; and repealing of federally funded, means-tested housing programs and replacing them with block housing grants. It also includes a section prohibiting federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or a condition that threatens the life of the mother.
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