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Devolution and Welfare: The Social and Legal Implications of State Inequalities for Welfare Reform in the United States.



OVER THE PAST FOUR DECADES, THE POLITICAL IDEOLOGY OF FEDERALISM federalism.

1 In political science, see federal government.

2 In U.S. history, see states' rights.
federalism

Political system that binds a group of states into a larger, noncentralized, superior state while allowing them
 HAS become increasingly popular in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  (Cashin, 1999). Federalism promotes shifting responsibility for certain social policies and programs from the federal government to the states. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 proponents of federalism, giving states the authority to make decisions concerning programs promotes the creation of better programs since states are not constrained by federal guidelines that may inhibit innovation (Ibid.). The decentralization de·cen·tral·ize  
v. de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing, de·cen·tral·iz·es

v.tr.
1. To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities.
, or devolution, of decision-making that accompanies federalism is promoted as a means by which states can better identify and meet the needs of their populations. Proponents of devolution argue that the type and magnitude of problems vary by state, and that the federal government is too far removed from the unique problems of states to realistically institute policies and make decisions about state problems. Consequently, states need the flexibility afforded by devolution to redress their own probl ems. Federalism played a key role in welfare reform ideology during the 1990s. The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (referred to as PRWORA PRWORA Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
PRWORA Personal Responsibility Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act
 below) reformed Aid to Families with Dependent Children Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was the name of a federal assistance program in effect from 1935 to 1997,[1] which was administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  (AFDC AFDC
abbr.
Aid to Families with Dependent Children

AFDC n abbr (US) (= Aid to Families with Dependent Children) → ayuda a familias con hijos menores

AFDC n abbr
) using federalist fed·er·al·ist  
n.
1. An advocate of federalism.

2. Federalist A member or supporter of the Federalist Party.

adj.
1. Of or relating to federalism or its advocates.

2.
 ideology.

This article presents an analysis of PRWORA. Since the act is premised on federalist ideology, it is important to consider characteristics of states that influence how welfare policy decisions are made. After examining the federalist characteristics of PRWORA, we analyze the social and legal implications for welfare reform of inequalities between states.

Federalist Ideology and Policies of Welfare Reform

With the passage of PRWORA in 1996, welfare as we knew it ended in the United States. The act abolished AFDC, one of the oldest federal public assistance programs that specifically targeted poor families with children, and replaced it with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, often pronounced "TAN-if") is the July 1, 1997, successor to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, providing cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the United States Department of  (TANF TANF Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (previously known as AFDC) ). TANF was sculpted using federalist ideology, as evidenced by the arguments used in congressional hearings by its supporters and the policies implemented after its passage. Many of these policies gave states the authority to tailor TANF programs and service delivery structures to reflect state goals, philosophies, and needs.

Federalist Rhetoric of Welfare Reform: The federalist intentions of PRWORA were inherent in statements made during a congressional conference on PRWORA. For example, Senators Morella and Hatch and Representative Solomon made favorable statements about returning responsibility for the poor to the states. Senator Morella supported "welfare reform that moves recipients from welfare to work and encourages personal responsibility. This legislation does that by allowing states to try new approaches that meet the needs of their recipients" (Congressional Record A daily publication of the federal government that details the legislative proceedings of Congress.

The Congressional Record began in 1873 and, in 1947, a feature called The Daily Digest was added to briefly highlight the daily legislative activities of each House,
 142, E1453 daily ed., July 31, 1996). Senator Hatch's statements also supported federalist ideology:

Today we send the states the authority to design their own programs for the needy. We move one step further away from the one size fits all approach that comes from a Federal Bureaucracy far removed from individual state governments and constituencies.... This bill will...allow the states to continue to design comprehensive programs to address their unique constituencies, needs, and resources (Ibid: 59394).

Representative Solomon stated: "The citizens of the states, in whom I have the utmost confidence, will be finally free to use local solutions to help low-income families in their neighborhoods" (Ibid.). Each statement supported the notion that states, and not the federal government, should be responsible for the poor.

Federalist Policies of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act: Changes made to AFDC with the passage of the PRWORA were consistent with such federalist rhetoric. Under AFDC, states had the discretion to set their own standards of need (the income level at which a family became eligible for AFDC) and their own benefit levels. The PRWORA extended state discretion into program areas not previously covered. Changes in AFDC that increased state authority over the program are discussed below, with particular attention to the program's stated goals, funding structure, entitlement characteristics, and work requirements.

Goals of AFDC and TANE TANE Ternopil Academy of National Economy (Russia)
TANE Telephone Association of New England
TANE Titans Anime Network of Edmonton (Japanese Animation club; Harry Ainley High School in Edmonton, Alberta) 
: AFDC's goals were to encourage the care of needy children in their homes, promote family self-support, and strengthen family life (Committee on Ways and Means WAYS AND MEANS. In legislative assemblies there is usually appointed a committee whose duties are to inquire into, and propose to the house, the ways and means to be adopted to raise funds for the use of the government. This body is called the committee of ways and means. , 1998). The role of states in meeting these goals was not mentioned. In contrast, TANF clearly set an agenda for the states. TANF's first goal is to increase state flexibility in operating programs designed to aid needy families so that their children may be cared for in their homes or those of relatives (Ibid.). Increasing state flexibility over the program characterizes several changes made in the shift from AFDC to TANF. Changes in the funding structure, entitlement and eligibility definitions, and work requirements all reflect greater state responsibility for the program.

Funding Structure: The old AFDC program entitled states to unlimited federal matching funds Noun 1. matching funds - funds that will be supplied in an amount matching the funds available from other sources
cash in hand, finances, funds, monetary resource, pecuniary resource - assets in the form of money
 for state-set benefits and the administration of the AFDC program. Unlike its forerunner, TANF is based on a block grant system whereby states receive a fixed grant to provide benefits to poor families and operate their programs. The block grant approach increases the amount of control states have over the program. Under the block grant system, states have the discretion to spend dollars as they see fit -- as long as the monies are used to reasonably accomplish the program's goals and as long as states maintain at least 75% of their historic level of spending (Ibid.). This discretion allows states to decide which ancillary programs they will fund and the size of each budget.

In addition, financial incentives can be reaped by states for certain performance factors. States receive bonuses for reducing out-of-wedlock births, and if they do not spend all of their allotted block grant funds, they can now keep surplus monies and divert them to other programs. This serves as an incentive to reduce state caseloads. Some states may use this surplus to fund other types of programs beneficial to the poor, while others may use it as a form of tax relief (Cashin, 1999).

Entitlement and Eligibility: Unlike AFDC, TANF expressly denies poor families and children entitlement to assistance. States are no longer required by federal law to give assistance to poor families. Under AFDC, states were required to aid all eligible families using state income standards. States now have the discretion to determine whether they will extend benefits to families even if families fall within the states' income eligibility guidelines (Committee on Ways and Means, 1998). Although no state has opted to stop providing benefits to eligible families, states do have the discretion to determine the period of time a family can receive assistance. Many states have opted for a two-year time limit, after which a family must stay off of assistance for a specified period before receiving additional years of assistance.

TANF also diverges from AFDC regarding the determination of eligibility for the program. Under AFDC, the federal government determined categories of eligible recipients. Children with one parent or with an incapacitated in·ca·pac·i·tate  
tr.v. in·ca·pac·i·tat·ed, in·ca·pac·i·tat·ing, in·ca·pac·i·tates
1. To deprive of strength or ability; disable.

2. To make legally ineligible; disqualify.
 or unemployed second parent were considered eligible to receive AFDC if they met state income eligibility guidelines. Under TANF, states determine the eligible categories of families. Theoretically, states can choose not to extend benefits to certain categories of families that were once eligible for assistance under AFDC. This change reflects stronger state influence over public assistance for the poor.

Work Requirements: TANF also reflects stronger state influence in the work requirement attached to welfare receipt. Under AFDC, welfare recipients were required to participate in the JOBS program, but participation in the program did not necessarily require work. TANF, however, requires states to demonstrate that at least 50% of their caseloads are involved in specified work activities by the year 2002. The responsibility placed on states to help welfare clients make the transition from welfare to work was accompanied by changes in work requirements that gave states greater discretion over work requirement rules.

Under AFDC, federal law allowed for the exemption of certain categories of recipients from work activities. Parents (chiefly mothers) with children under the age of three were exempted from work. With TANF, the federal government has not established any exemption categories. States may determine who is eligible for exemption from work. In addition, under AFDC, the federal government did not establish a work trigger (a period of time after which work was required to receive benefits) for welfare recipients. TANF requires a recipient to work after a maximum of two years of receiving benefits. States have the discretion to set a shorter trigger period and many states have opted to do so. In addition, what is considered "work" is determined by the states (Ibid.). States also have the power to decide how and when to sanction welfare recipients for failing to meet the work requirements specified in the new welfare law (Ibid.).

State Inequalities and Welfare Reform: The Role of State Wealth and State Political Culture

The changes made to the AFDC program when it became TANF reflect a decentralized de·cen·tral·ize  
v. de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing, de·cen·tral·iz·es

v.tr.
1. To distribute the administrative functions or powers of (a central authority) among several local authorities.
 approach to assisting the poor. States are encouraged to play a more active role in policies and programs for poor families with children. This approach assumes that each state is willing to provide for the social welfare needs of poor families with children, and that states are willing to allocate adequate funding for social welfare programs. Historically, states have been unequal entities with respect to their fiscal capabilities in assisting poor families. States have also been unequal entities with respect to their willingness to assists poor families with children. The inequality between states regarding their ability and willingness to help poor families and children in part reflects the fiscal capacity and political culture of each state.

First, states in the U.S. are unequal on measures of wealth. Some states clearly have more resources than others do and thus potentially can devote adequate resources to social welfare programs. Conversely, states that are relatively resource poor have limited funds available for social welfare spending. Second, the degree of social responsibility that states exhibit toward the disadvantaged is diverse and the perception of the role of the state in designing and implementing social welfare programs thus varies across states. Some states are very proactive in addressing the well-being of their disadvantaged citizens, while others have been very reluctant to redress social well-being deficits for disadvantaged populations. A state's political culture partially indicates whether it will be proactive and aggressive in addressing the well-being of its disadvantaged populations.

Discussions of welfare reform have ignored the differences between states regarding fiscal capacities and political cultures. These factors are important because welfare reform means that states can approach resolving deficits in the well-being of poor families and children in very different ways. The 1996 welfare legislation gave states the authority to tailor public assistance programs for the poor. Thus, their approach to the design, implementation, and extension of benefits for these programs reflects their ability to fund welfare programs, as well as their political cultures.

Before the implementation of welfare reform, states were unequal regarding the economic security of families with children. Though the national poverty rate in 1995 (the year before most states implemented welfare reform) was 13%, and the national child poverty rate was 19%, states exhibited substantial variation on these measures of economic security. For example, the poverty rates in Mississippi and New Mexico New Mexico, state in the SW United States. At its northwestern corner are the so-called Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at right angles; New Mexico is also bordered by Oklahoma (NE), Texas (E, S), and Mexico (S).  were 23.5% and 25.3% respectively. The child poverty rate for these states was almost double the national child poverty rate: 36.4% and 34.9% respectively. Conversely, the poverty rates for some states in 1995 fell well below the national average. For example, Minnesota's poverty rate was 10.4% and its child poverty rate was 11.7%. New Hampshire's poverty rate was 4.3% and its child poverty rate was 7.7%. The statistics on poverty suggest that the economic security and well-being of families vary substantially across state lines.

We believe the current approach to welfare reform will further diminish the economic security of families in some states. The following discussion highlights how the fiscal capabilities and political cultures of states bear on the economic security of poor families in this era of welfare reform.

State Fiscal Capacity and the Well-Being of Poor Families

An important consideration in welfare reform is the inequality states exhibit in their levels of wealth. As noted, this divergence affects the ability of states to devote resources to social welfare programs for the poor. The relationship between state wealth and spending on social welfare programs is shown in Table 1 (located at the end of the article). Table 1 shows the per capita income Noun 1. per capita income - the total national income divided by the number of people in the nation
income - the financial gain (earned or unearned) accruing over a given period of time
 of each state, along with the state's average monthly AFDC benefit adjusted for the cost of living for 1995. It also shows the average yearly AFDC benefit adjusted for the cost of living as a percentage of each state's per capita income. States with relatively high per capita [Latin, By the heads or polls.] A term used in the Descent and Distribution of the estate of one who dies without a will. It means to share and share alike according to the number of individuals.  incomes have relatively higher average monthly AFDC benefits compared to states with relatively low per capita incomes. This is the case for the majority of the states, even when the average monthly AFDC benefit is adjusted for the cost of living. For example, Connecticut had the highest per capita income among the states. Connecticut's average monthl y AFDC benefit in 1995 was $524. The cost-of-living adjusted average monthly AFDC benefit in Connecticut was $464. Conversely, Mississippi, the state with the lowest per capita income ($16,690), had an average monthly AFDC benefit of $120. When Mississippi's AFDC benefit is adjusted for the cost of living, the 1995 average monthly benefit was $135. Thus, even when the cost of living is taken into account, states are very unequal in terms of the assistance they provide to poor families with children. This inequality seems to be partially a function of the wealth of states. Table 2 groups states by quartiles based on per capita income. The average AFDC benefit adjusted for the cost of living is shown for each quartile Quartile

A statistical term describing a division of observations into four defined intervals based upon the values of the data and how they compare to the entire set of observations.

Notes:
Each quartile contains 25% of the total observations.
. Average per capita income was calculated for each group of states. The average monthly AFDC benefit (adjusted for the cost of living) was also calculated for each group of states. States in groups one and two were states in which the per capita income ranged from a low of $16,690 to a high of $21 ,457. States in group three and four were states in which the per capita income ranged from a low of $21,554 to a high of $33,435.

Groups one and two represent states with relatively low per capita incomes and low average monthly AFDC benefits. Groups three and four represent states that had relatively high per capita incomes and relatively high AFDC benefits. Interestingly, most Southern states fall within the first and second groups on per capita income and average monthly AFDC benefits, indicating that this region provides minimal cash assistance to those in need.

Table 1 also shows that most states with relatively high per capita incomes spent a larger portion of their per capita income on AFDC benefits, compared to states with relatively low per capita incomes. However, in some cases, states with relatively high per capita incomes spent a lower portion of their per capita income on AFDC benefits. This is so because states with similar per capita incomes may approach welfare spending differently based on their political cultures.

State Political Culture and the Well-Being of Poor Families and Children

Political culture refers to "the particular pattern of orientation to political action in which political systems are embedded" (Elazar and Kikmund, 1975: 5). A critical feature of America's political culture is a general distrust of centralized authority (Skocpol, 1995). Consequently, states have retained a substantial amount of latitude in making policy and program decisions (Ibid.). This latitude has given rise to major political subcultures that tend to vary by region in the U.S. Elazar's (1975) classification of states by political culture generally divides them into three categories: individual, moral, and traditional.

In states with an individual political culture, the government's role in providing services and programs is very limited. Services and programs are generally introduced only when great public demand arises. The focus of such programs has usually been to enhance the ability of the private sector to meet the needs of disadvantaged populations (Zimmerman, 1992). States that exhibit an individual political culture include Connecticut, Nebraska, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Rhode Island Rhode Island, island, United States
Rhode Island, island, 15 mi (24 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide, S R.I., at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. It is the largest island in the state, with steep cliffs and excellent beaches.
, New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Nevada, Alaska, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Hawaii. In states with a moral political culture, the government's role is to promote the general welfare of all citizens (Ibid.). As such, social welfare policies in states with a strong moral political culture promote the well-being of citizens and focus on rectifying severe inequality. These states include Vermont, Minnesota, Utah, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota North Dakota, state in the N central United States. It is bordered by Minnesota, across the Red River of the North (E), South Dakota (S), Montana (W), and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (N). , Colorado, Oregon, New Hampshire New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut R. forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E). , Iowa, Kansas, Cal ifornia, Washington, Montana, South Dakota South Dakota (dəkō`tə), state in the N central United States. It is bordered by North Dakota (N), Minnesota and Iowa (E), Nebraska (S), and Wyoming and Montana (W). , and Idaho.

States with traditional political cultures do not show a high degree of social responsibility for their residents. They exhibit an acceptance of class inequality and its consequences. In such states, the government's role in redistributing resources is restricted (Ibid.), and the unequal distribution of resources is thought to reflect a natural order in society. Thus, states with a traditional political culture are very conservative with respect to social welfare spending. Such states tend to have very poor records on race relations race relations
Noun, pl

the relations between members of two or more races within a single community

race relations nplrelaciones fpl raciales

 and use coded messages that are intended to produce racial fear, with the aim of limiting social welfare policies that may assist poor minorities. States that are included in the traditionalist typology typology /ty·pol·o·gy/ (ti-pol´ah-je) the study of types; the science of classifying, as bacteria according to type.

typology

the study of types; the science of classifying, as bacteria according to type.
 include Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia West Virginia, E central state of the United States. It is bordered by Pennsylvania and Maryland (N), Virginia (E and S), and Kentucky and, across the Ohio R., Ohio (W). Facts and Figures


Area, 24,181 sq mi (62,629 sq km). Pop.
, Kentucky, Florida, New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina South Carolina, state of the SE United States. It is bordered by North Carolina (N), the Atlantic Ocean (SE), and Georgia (SW). Facts and Figures


Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15.
, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arizona, and North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures


Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop.
.

Table 3 groups states by political culture. Average per capita income and the percentage of the average per capita income that is spent on AFDC are shown for each group of states. It suggests that states respond differently to the needs of disadvantaged populations, based on their ability to fund social welfare programs and on the dominant political culture of the state. On average, states with a moral political culture spent a larger portion of their per capita income on AFDC benefits in 1995, as opposed to states with individual and traditional political cultures. States characterized as moral spent 28% of their per capita income on AFDC benefits. States with individual and traditional political cultures spent 18.3% and 14.3%, respectively, of their per capita income on AFDC benefits.

The data from 1995 suggest that states were unequal entities in terms of fiscal capabilities and political cultures even before the passage of the PRWORA. Welfare reform discussions so far have insufficiently examined the implications of such state inequalities for the well-being of poor families and children. With states now responsible for providing welfare benefits to the poor, preexisting pre·ex·ist or pre-ex·ist  
v. pre·ex·ist·ed, pre·ex·ist·ing, pre·ex·ists

v.tr.
To exist before (something); precede: Dinosaurs preexisted humans.

v.intr.
 inequalities between states on measures of family and child well-being will be exacerbated. This is so because states have different approaches to helping disadvantaged populations (based on their political cultures), and are unequally equipped to redress the disadvantages (based on fiscal capabilities).

The Economic Security of Families Before and After TANF

A study conducted by the Center on Hunger and Poverty (1998) at Tufts University Tufts University, main campus at Medford, Mass.; coeducational; chartered 1852 by Universalists as a college for men. It became a university in 1955. Jackson College, formerly a coordinate undergraduate college for women, merged with the College of Liberal Arts in  highlighted differences between states regarding their treatment of poor families and children before and after the implementation of TANF. A "Tufts scale" measured the extent to which states had implemented policies and programs aiming to increase the economic security of poor families and children after TANF's introduction in 1996. The study examined changes in benefit level and state eligibility standards, benefit time limits, work requirements and sanctions, assistance in obtaining work, and income and asset development. These items, according to the authors, "reflect state policy decisions about the use of welfare programs to encourage and support families' efforts to become economically self-sufficient" (Ibid.: 25).

The study indicated that as of October 1, 1997, "only nine states had implemented policies that were likely to improve the economic security of poor families in their states, or at least make it no worse than under prior law" (Ibid.). These states included Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Most of these states enjoyed relatively high per capita incomes in 1995 and thus relatively high AFDC benefits before the implementation of TANF. Four states were categorized as having moral political cultures (Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Washington). The remaining states fell within the individual political culture category. Of these, Vermont, Oregon, and New Hampshire ranked highest among all the states on improving the economic security" of poor families.

The Tufts scale revealed that North Carolina, Alabama, Wyoming, Kansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Idaho had the poorest outcomes on measures of securing the economic security of poor families with children. Most of these states had low per capita incomes and had traditional political cultures.

The policy choices of states under TANF will likely produce quite different outcomes across states for poor families with children. Some states will use the flexibility offered by TANF to hinder the economic well-being of poor families. Given the inequalities that exist between states, the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act should be critically examined from a legal perspective. The act diminishes the federal government's role in setting standards of assistance for poor citizens across state lines. This raises the critical issue of the "equal protection" of the rights of poor citizens in the U.S.

The Legal Implications of Welfare Reform

The inequalities between states in terms of the distribution of resources, leading to differences in their ability and willingness to provide for the poor, are not compatible with a welfare system that allows each state to cater to the needs of its citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment Fourteenth Amendment, addition to the U.S. Constitution, adopted 1868. The amendment comprises five sections. Section 1


Section 1 of the amendment declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens and citizens
 to the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying anyone within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws Noun 1. equal protection of the laws - a right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution and by the due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment . Although this Amendment expressly relates to states, it does not in any way preclude federal intervention Federal intervention (Spanish: Intervención federal) is an attribution of the federal government of Argentina, by which it takes control of a province in certain extreme cases. Intervention is declared by the President with the assent of the National Congress. , guidance, and direction when there is a need. By the spending power The power of legislatures to tax and spend.

Spending power is conferred to state and federal legislatures through their constitution. Judicial Review of legislative spending varies from state to state, but the law of federal spending informs courts in all states.
 enunciated in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution, Congress can through various means generate funds to "provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." Through this provision, the federal government can step in to promote policies and programs that alleviate the plight of the disadvantaged. In Fullilove v. Klutznick Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 (1980)[1], was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that the U.S. Congress could constitutionally use its spending power to remedy past discrimination. , 448 U.S. 448 (1980), for instance, by evoking its spending powers, Congress legit le·git  
adj. Slang
Legitimate.
 imized a program that helped minority-owned companies, thereby enforcing the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment. The equal protection clause The Equal Protection Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides that "no state shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.  mandates the government to treat all citizens alike -- "no state shall deny to any person the equal protection of the law equal protection of the law n. the right of all persons to have the same access to the law and courts, and to be treated equally by the law and courts, both in procedures and in the substance of the law. ." However, the courts have recognized that when there is a compelling state interest to be served, states can classify certain people for special treatment, whenever such classification is reasonable (Grossman and Wells, 1972: 778).

Although welfare has been deemed a charitable gesture by the government (some may therefore argue that the government can thus regulate it however it deems best), it seems reasonable that processes should be established whereby some measure of protection is accorded to factions of the population that are disadvantaged (Ibid.: 774). When a state is viable, but resources are disproportionately distributed so as to deny segments of its population the benefits of those resources, absent a compelling state interest, or "reasonable bias," that state has an obligation to right the wrong. If the wrong is not remedied, it becomes an example of discrimination. We do not contend that welfare assistance is a fundamental right that imposes on government the obligation to provide for its subjects under every circumstance where persons seek to have all of their wants provided "free." If that were the case, as Michelman (1969: 14) reasons,

every claim to have a specified want satisfied "free" will be convertible into a claim that the practices which eventuated in the existing distribution are improper because they have left some persons unable to "afford" the cost of satisfying the want. The latter proposition will be much harder to sustain in any forum, legal or popular--especially when account must be taken of contingencies of exertion exertion,
n vigorous action, a great effort, a strong influence.
, moderation, judgment, and planning--than the simple assertion that there is presently a want conjoined conjoined /con·joined/ (kon-joind´) joined together; united.

conjoined

joined together.


conjoined monsters
two deformed fetuses fused together.
 with a lack of personal means to satisfy it.

We do advocate equal protection as a fundamental right where the issue is based on "need," and where government might have imposed "conditions of access" to these needs. Since social programs have been instituted to assist the poor, states should not deny benefits to subjects entitled to assistance without justification. Justifications may not exist under the following circumstances outlined by Michelman (Ibid.: 20):

1. A general ill-suitedness to the advancement of any proper governmental objective;

2. A high degree of adaptation to uses that are oppressive in the sense of systematic and unfair devaluation devaluation, decreasing the value of one nation's currency relative to gold or the currencies of other nations. It is usually undertaken as a means of correcting a deficit in the balance of payments. , through majority rule, of the claims of certain persons to nondiscriminatory sharing in the benefits and burdens of social existence; or

3. Implying popular or official belief in their inherent inferiority or undeservingness.

However, when a given state is economically and financially disadvantaged because of fiscal disparities, it is incumbent on the federal government to subsidize or better fund programs that attempt to rectify economic inequality
For the economic inequality among nations, see international inequality.


Economic inequality refers to disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income.
. In U.S. v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1(1936), the Supreme Court arrived at an "unpopular decision" when it held that the federal government lacked the power to deal with the dwindling economic situation of farmers. Realizing its decision in Butler to be flawed, the following year in Steward Machine Company v. Davis Steward Machine Company v. Davis, 301 U.S. 548 (1937)[1], was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the unemployment compensation provisions of the Social Security Act of 1935. , 301 U.S. 548 (1937), the Supreme Court reversed itself and set a precedent for "broad federal government taxing and spending powers" to assist in social security programs (see Goldman, 1991: 301).

The current state of welfare reform exacerbates the disadvantages of residents of states with limited resources and conservative social welfare political cultures. As a result, the treatment of poor persons across the states, especially children, becomes extremely unequal. Depending on where they reside, some of the poor in our nation are actively excluded from reaping reasonable benefits of our nation's safety net.

The question as to whether the equal protection clause "imposes federal affirmative duties on [the federal] government to remedy inequalities in society" remains unanswered. Michelman (1979) emphatically advocated that it is incumbent on the government to provide "just wants" for all, that is, the basic protections. Basic protections include education, health care, food, and shelter. Michelman' s suggestions were deemed unsatisfactory by some, but heralded by others.

Many cases relating to relating to relate prepconcernant

relating to relate prepbezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc 
 welfare that have been adjudicated by the courts concern practices by states that the litigants contend discriminate against them. Examples include Dandridge v. Williams (1970) and San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973)[1], was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States reversed a Texas three-judge District Court.  (1973). Our premise, however, is that some members of some states are likely to be (or are) discriminated against with regard to welfare benefits not because the states purposefully perpetuate discrimination, but because of a state's limited resources, it needs protection from the federal government. If Congress can exercise its spending power to regulate drinking age Noun 1. drinking age - the age at which is legal for a person to buy alcoholic beverages
eld, age - a time of life (usually defined in years) at which some particular qualification or power arises; "she was now of school age"; "tall for his eld"
 limits for states (South Dakota v. Dole South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987)[1], was a case in which the United States Supreme Court considered federalism and the power of the United States Congress under the Taxing and Spending Clause. , 438 U.S. 203, 1987), we see no reason why it should limit those powers to regulate welfare benefits. As Justice Rehnquist conceded in the South Dakota case, that spending power is not without limits, since the Constitution states, "the exercise of spending power must be in pursuit of the 'general welfare'" (Goldman, 1991: 318).

Welfare reform initiatives that liberate the federal government from directing and overseeing welfare programs for the poor ignore differences in the willingness and ability of states to fund social welfare programs, as well as the deficits in their jurisdictions. This raises the question of whether federal oversight of public assistance programs is needed in states that are failing to meet the needs of their indigent indigent 1) n. a person so poor and needy that he/she cannot provide the necessities of life (food, clothing, decent shelter) for himself/herself. 2) n. one without sufficient income to afford a lawyer for defense in a criminal case.  populations.

Current welfare reform initiatives do raise serious legal considerations. Given the disparities in measures of wealth and willingness to provide assistance to the poor, institutionalized discrimination Institutionalized discrimination is discrimination which has long been accepted as normal governmental operating procedures, laws, or objectives.

Examples of institutionalized discrimination include, laws and decisions that reflect racism, such as the Plessy vs.
 against the poor results regardless of conscious intent in states with limited resources. The notion of equal protection is thus incongruous with recent welfare reforms in the United States. Moreover, a welfare policy that significantly reduces the federal role in assisting the poor fails to provide for the "general welfare" of the nation's population. The same government has consistently provided benefits to people eligible for Social Security, without state discretion. By relinquishing most of its responsibility to the states for providing for poor families, the federal government acknowledged that only certain populations are deserving of federal oversight. This action raises the question of whether federal funding for welfare programs is inherently discriminatory in the U.S.

Conclusions

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 revolutionized welfare assistance for poor families with children in the United States. By giving states greater responsibility for the former AFDC program (now TANF), the federal government delivered the message that assistance to poor families is by no means a social right in the United States. Although reforming welfare is an important public agenda, the current approach to reform ignores the disparities between states on measures of their ability and willingness to assist poor families with children.

Given the disparities between states, giving them greater control over welfare programs that specifically target the poor raises fundamental questions about the "equal protection" of populations, since states are not equal entities in terms of resources or their political culture. The treatment of the poor across states has become more unequal and, as a result, depending on where one lives as a poor person, one may be actively excluded from the benefits of our nation's safety net. Since other federally funded programs (i.e., Social Security) are not left to the states' discretion, does not the federal government discriminate in the case of social welfare programs (and subsequently populations) that warrant federal oversight? Thus, current welfare reform efforts challenge the notion that the federal government can abstain from abstain from
verb refrain from, avoid, decline, give up, stop, refuse, cease, do without, shun, renounce, eschew, leave off, keep from, forgo, withhold from, forbear, desist from, deny yourself, kick (
 intervening on behalf of certain populations within states. The reformation of public assistance for poor families and children is truly needed in the United States, but welfare reform that creates further disparities between states is a questionable approach given the inequalities that already exist between them.

INGRID PHILLIPS WHITAKER, M.S.W., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Old Dominion University “ODU” redirects here. For other uses, see ODU (disambiguation).

The university was recently named one of the best colleges in the Southeast by The Princeton Review.
 (Norfolk, VA 23529; e-mail: iwhitake@odu.edu). Her research interests include social welfare policy, welfare reform, social welfare policy and race, and child social well-being. VICTORIA TIME, Esq., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA 23529; e-mail: vtime@odu.edu). Her research interests include legal issues, comparative criminal justice Comparative criminal justice is a subfield of the study of Criminal Justice that compares justice systems worldwide. Such study can take a descriptive, historical, or political approach. , and criminological theories and fiction.

REFERENCES

Cashin, Sheryll

1999 "Federalism, Welfare Reform, and the Minority Poor: Accounting for State Tyranny of State Majorities." Columbia Law Review The Columbia Law Review is a law review edited and published entirely by students at Columbia Law School. It was founded in 1901 by Joseph E. Corrigan and John M. Woolsey, who served as the Review's first editor-in-chief and secretary.  99: 552-627.

Center on Hunger and Poverty

1998 "Are States Improving the Lives of Poor Families?" Medford, MA: Tufts University.

Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives

1998 Green Book. Washington, D.C.

Elazar, D. and J. Kikmund II (eds.)

1975 The Ecology of American Political Culture: Readings. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co.

Goldman, S.

1991 Constitutional Law Cases and Essay. Second Edition. HarperCollins Publishers.

Grossman, J. and R. Wells

1972 Constitutional Law and Judicial Policy Making. New York: John Wiley John Wiley may refer to:
  • John Wiley & Sons, publishing company
  • John C. Wiley, American ambassador
  • John D. Wiley, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • John M. Wiley (1846–1912), U.S.
 and Sons, Inc.

Michelman, F.

1979 "Welfare Rights in a Constitutional Democracy." Washington University Law Review 659.

1969 "Foreword: On Protecting the Poor Through the Fourteenth Amendment." Harvard Law Review The Harvard Law Review is a journal of legal scholarship published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School. Overview
The Review is one of the most cited law reviews in the United States and considered by many to be the most prestigious.
 83: 42.

Skocpol, T.

1995 Social Policy in the U.S. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Princeton University, at Princeton, N.J.; coeducational; chartered 1746, opened 1747, rechartered 1748, called the College of New Jersey until 1896. Schools and Research Facilities
 Press.

Zimmerman, S.

1992 Family Policies and Family Well-Being: The Role of Political Culture. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications This article or section needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. , Inc.
Table 1

State Per Capita Income, Actual and Adjusted Average Monthly
AFDC Benefits, and Adjusted AFDC Benefit as a % of Per Capita
Income, 1995


State              Per      Average  Cost of  Average
                   Capita   Monthly  Living   Monthly
                   Income   AFDC     Index    AFDC
                            Benefit           Benefit [*]

Alabama            $19,212   $150      .92       $163
Alaska             $24,045   $724     1.14       $635
Arizona            $20,074   $301     1.00       $301
Arkansas           $18,093   $168      .90       $187
California         $24,091   $556     1.03       $540
Colorado           $23,954   $309      .98       $315
Connecticut        $31,814   $524     1.13       $464
Delaware           $26,279   $282     1.04       $271
Dist. of Columbia  $33,435   $386     1.06       $364
Florida            $23,030   $277      .94       $295
Georgia            $21,718   $249      .91       $274
Hawaii             $24,749   $664     1.30       $511
Idaho              $18,860   $287      .94       $305
Illinois           $25,310   $311     1.00       $311
Indiana            $21,457   $250      .96       $260
Iowa               $20,911   $342      .93       $368
Kansas             $21,855   $335      .93       $360
Kentucky           $18,866   $204      .91       $224
Louisiana          $19,000   $158      .93       $170
Maine              $20,150   $389     1.04       $374
Maryland           $26,352   $347      .98       $354
Massachusetts      $28,032   $540     1.14       $474
Michigan           $23,943   $414      .94       $440
Minnesota          $23,944   $520      .94       $553
Mississippi        $16,690   $120      .89       $135
Missouri           $21,836   $258      .93       $277
Montana            $18,443   $351      .95       $369
Nebraska           $21,450   $319      .94       $339
Nevada             $24,336   $276     1.00       $276
New Hampshire      $25,587   $439     1.07       $410
New Jersey         $29,833   $357     1.15       $310
New Mexico         $18,158   $373      .97       $385
New York           $27,595   $555     1.14       $487



State              Adjusted
                   AFDC
                   Benefit [**]


Alabama                 10
Alaska                  32
Arizona                 18
Arkansas                12
California              27
Colorado                16
Connecticut             18
Delaware                12
Dist. of Columbia       13
Florida                 15
Georgia                 15
Hawaii                  25
Idaho                   19
Illinois                15
Indiana                 15
Iowa                    21
Kansas                  20
Kentucky                14
Louisiana               11
Maine                   22
Maryland                16
Massachusetts           20
Michigan                22
Minnesota               28
Mississippi             10
Missouri                15
Montana                 24
Nebraska                19
Nevada                  14
New Hampshire           19
New Jersey              12
New Mexico              25
New York                21
North Carolina  $21,082  $222   .92  $241  14
North Dakota    $18,621  $362   .93  $389  25
Ohio            $22,547  $310   .98  $316  17
Oklahoma        $18,596  $283   .92  $308  20
Oregon          $21,554  $384   .97  $396  22
Pennsylvania    $23,580  $369  1.05  $351  18
Rhode Island    $23,798  $504  1.12  $450  23
South Carolina  $19,031  $183   .91  $201  13
South Dakota    $19,564  $301   .92  $327  20
Tennessee       $21,076  $172   .93  $185  11
Texas           $21,119  $159   .92  $173  10
Utah            $18,167  $349  1.00  $349  23
Vermont         $21,231  $536  1.03  $520  29
Virginia        $23,985  S257   .96  $268  13
Washington      $23,701  $495  1.01  $490  25
West Virginia   $17,714  $237   .91  $260  18
Wisconsin       $22,265  $441   .95  $464  25
Wyoming         $20,727  $333   .95  $351  20



(*)Adjusted for the cost of living.

(**)As percentage of per capita income.
Table 2

Average Per Capita Incomes and Adjusted AFDC Benefits for States


States                                   Average Per Capita
                                         Income for States


Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana,          $18,419
Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico,
North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina,
Utah, West Virginia

Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Maine,                $20,803
Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas,           $22,901
Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
Washington, Wisconsin

Alaska, California, Connecticut,              $26,817
Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii,
Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York, Virginia



States                                    Average Monthly
                                           Adjusted AFDC
                                         Benefit for States

Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana,            $265
Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico,
North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina,
Utah, West Virginia

Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Maine,                  $312
Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas,             $383
Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
Washington, Wisconsin

Alaska, California, Connecticut,                $405
Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii,
Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York, Virginia
Table 3:

State Political Culture, Average Per Capita Income
for States, and Percent of Average Per Capita Income
Spent on AFDC Benefits


States                                  Average Per Capita
                                        Income for States



Moral Political Culture
California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa,    $409
Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota,
Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota,
Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont,
Washington, Wisconsin

Individual Political Culture
Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii,  $378
Illinois, Indiana, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska,
Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wyoming

Traditional Political Culture
Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia,         $235
Kentucky, Florida, New Mexico,
Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas,
Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina,
Michigan, Tennessee, Arizona, North
Carolina



States                                  Percent of Average
                                        Per Capita Income
                                        Spent on AFDC
                                        Benefits

Moral Political Culture
California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa,    22.8%
Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota,
Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota,
Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont,
Washington, Wisconsin

Individual Political Culture
Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii,  18.3%
Illinois, Indiana, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska,
Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio,
Pennsxylvania, Rhode Island, Wyoming

Traditional Political Culture
Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia,         14.3%
Kentucky, Florida, New Mexico,
Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas,
Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina,
Michigan, Tennessee, Arizona, North
Carolina
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Whitaker, Ingrid Phillips; Time, Victoria
Publication:Social Justice
Date:Mar 22, 2001
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