How Maine got rid of welfare deadbeats
Republicans have always championed welfare reform, but their efforts have routinely been sidetracked by Democrats who insist such reforms are uncaring to those in need and unfairly target minorities. The GOP, however, managed a welfare reform breakthrough recently, but they had to go to Maine, the whitest state in America, to do it. The reforms not only addressed the issue of fairness to those who cannot work, it managed to purge welfare rolls of those who can - and won't - work.
According to a report from USHerald.com, Maine had over 12,000 able-bodied people on food stamps. Gov. Paul LaPage (a Republican) championed the passage of reforms last year that required these able-bodied workers to either work twenty hours a week, enroll in a vocational training program, or volunteer for 24 hours each month to continue receiving benefits. Even though Maine provided reasonable alternatives to those unable (or unwilling) to work part-time, enrollment in the program dropped from over 12,000 in December 2014 to about 2,500 earlier this year.
Gov. LaPage didn't stop there. According to Fox News, he also instituted drug testing for welfare recipients who have been convicted previously of drug-related felonies. He is now proposing crackdown on purchases made with EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards to purchase alcohol, cigarettes, and lottery tickets, or using the cards outside of the state for cash withdrawals.
In addition, since Maine reinstituted a cap of 60 months on benefits (a cap which President Obama had waived), welfare rolls have dropped to 6.191 in March, from a high of 14,804 in 2011.
What is working in Maine seems to be catching on nationwide, as Americans, regardless of political persuasion, push for an end to welfare abuse. Twelve other states have begun drug testing on welfare recipients, and more reforms similar to Maine's initiatives are gaining momentum nationwide.