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The findings come from research that covers the 15 largest social safety net programs of the period between 1983 and 2004. They demonstrated that aid spending had dramatically increased. Despite this news, those earning as little as 50 percent below the federal poverty level, or $11,925 a year, were getting less support even though those earning 200 percent above the poverty level, or $47,700 were experiencing an increase in support
The period of study hints at the possible consequences of welfare reform legislation enacted during the presidency of Bill Clinton with the help of a Republican Congress, after which the amount of aid delivered to single-parent families decreased. “You would think the government would offer the most support to those who have the lowest incomes and provide less help to those with higher incomes,” Johns Hopkins University Economics Professor Robert A. Moffitt said in a statement. “But this is not the case.”
The shift in aid away from the neediest families could have been affected by welfare reforms passed during the Clinton administration. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 created the state-based Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, (TANF), which imposed time limits and work rules for recipients. These restrictions narrowed the pool of candidates eligible for benefits. Three assistant secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services resigned over the legislation, saying the law destroyed the safety net and would lead to increased poverty, would lower income for single parents, put people from welfare into homeless shelters and leave states free to eliminate welfare entirely