The rules of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program were changed under George W. Bush in 2006. Under the new rules people can only be paid TANF payments for two years while in an educational program. If getting people out of poverty is one of the goals of TANF, what are some of the problems you see with that rule?
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To understand the problem with the rule implemented by George W. Bush in 2006 to receive assistance under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) welfare program, one must first understand the objectives of the program. The program's objectives are (1) to financially ensure that children can be taken care of in their own homes as opposed to in foster care, (2) to put an end to parents needing financial support from the government by "promoting job preparation, work, and marriage," (3) to reduce the number of children born out of wedlock, and (4) to increase the number of two-parent families ("About TANF"). It's particularly the second goal that underscores the problems posed by Bush's 2006 rule. If one main goal of the TANF program is to eliminate financial dependence by promoting job preparation, job preparation can only be achieved through education. While some job preparation only take two years to complete, the highest paying jobs require four-year degrees or more. So, if needy parents are being paid government assistance through only the course of two years of their education, then most of those parents will earn nothing higher than an associate's degree at a vocational college in preparation for a job. While earning an associate's degree can often help a person earn a $50,000 annual income, it's also known that the highest salaries are earned once a person completes a master's degree or higher. Therefore, one problem Bush's 2006 rule presents concerns the fact that the rule puts limits on the amount of further education a needy parent can achieve as well as limits on how much that needy parent will be able to earn in the future.
The rule presents a further problem with respect to the TANF program's goal of eliminating financial dependency by promoting work. The problem concerns the fact that if needy parents are denied benefits immediately after earning a two-year education, then they are not being paid benefits while they are looking for a job. If needy parents have neither jobs nor benefits, then more than likely they will no longer be able to care for their children inside of the children's homes, which is also a goal of the program. Hence, the program should at least guarantee payment of benefits for at least one year after the needy parent has earned a two-year education, which provides some time to find a job, or until after the parent has found a job. Doing so would better ensure that the program has fulfilled its goal of eliminating financial dependency on the government.
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