In my latest reading of No Apology: Believe in America, Mitt Romney talks about welfare reform. He says that, as governor of Massachusetts, he proposed to require single parents with children to work, and the government under his proposal would spend money on job training and child care. Romney states on page 269: “Because my proposed program was based on training and child care, it would have actually cost the state more than simply keeping people on welfare—-it wasn’t cost savings we were looking for. We wanted to help save people from a culture of indolence and an endless cycle of poverty.”
On page 283, Romney criticizes the current welfare system for penalizing marriage. Essentially, single people with children get more in terms of food stamps, welfare, subsidized housing, and Medicaid. When two people marry, however, the government looks at their household income—-the combination of what the husband and wife make—-and this “often disqualifies them from benefits” (page 283).
These passages stood out to me because I have wondered: Would certain conservative policies actually spend more on welfare rather than less? As Romney notes, paying for child care and job training in addition to welfare is more expensive than just spending money on welfare. And, if welfare policy is not to penalize marriage, would that mean that couples would be receiving welfare, even though their combined level of income makes them ineligible for benefits under the current Spartan policy? And wouldn’t you expect for conservatives to be rather Spartan in their approach to welfare?
The hope is probably that work and marriage would set welfare recipients on a path to getting off of welfare, and that would save the state money in the long run.