Future of Welfare

November 21, 1975

Report Outline
The Emerging Politics of Welfare
Growth of Income-Support Benefits
Prospect of Overhauling the System
Special Focus

The Emerging Politics of Welfare

Issue for The 1976 Campaign; New York Example

The “WELFARE MESS” is the nation's most enduring domestic issue, a classic battlefield in American politics for the clash of conservative and liberal ideologies. Packing as much political dynamite today as it did 10 and 20 years ago, welfare is bound to figure prominently once more as an issue in the national election campaign of 1976. President Ford has called for a cutback in welfare spending and his challenger for the Republican nomination, Ronald Reagan of California, wants the responsibility for all welfare and related programs transferred from the federal to the state governments.

The National Governors' Conference, in contrast, has taken a stand in favor of full federal financing of a minimum income standard for the entire population every year since President Nixon proposed such a plan in 1969. The threatened bankruptcy of New York City, attributed in large part to the heavy drain on its budget of extensive and relatively generous social-welfare programs, has intensified concern in all states where other cities with large welfare burdens are located. Payments to its one million welfare recipients cost New York City $48.34 for every man, woman and child in the city in 1974. A study by the private, non-partisan Citizens Budget Commission, released on Nov. 16, indicates that this amount still represented only 30 per cent of the entire welfare cost in New York City. The state and the federal government paid the rest.

Like his three immediate predecessors in high office, President Ford has felt compelled to direct attention to questions of welfare reform and the 94th Congress can expect an administration proposal on this subject shortly after its second session convenes in January. A special task force appointed by the Domestic Council in the White House has been studying the welfare situation, and other domestic problems, over much of the past year with a view to presenting the President with available options for action he might take or recommend to Congress to overcome defects of the system. Meanwhile hundreds of bills to change this or that phase of the nation's welfare machinery are before Congress, as they have been before previous sessions for many years back. A growing consensus, however, has come to favor complete overhaul and simplification of the entire system.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aug. 2010  Social Welfare in Europe
Aug. 03, 2001  Welfare Reform
Dec. 06, 1996  Welfare, Work and the States
Sep. 16, 1994  Welfare Experiments
Apr. 10, 1992  Welfare Reform
Oct. 10, 1986  Working on Welfare
Mar. 09, 1984  Social Welfare Under Reagan
Apr. 17, 1981  European Welfare States Under Attack
Dec. 09, 1977  Welfare in America and Europe
Nov. 21, 1975  Future of Welfare
Dec. 20, 1967  Welfare Reform
Jun. 08, 1966  Guaranteed Income Plan
Oct. 04, 1961  Public Welfare Policy
Mar. 09, 1954  Worker Welfare Funds
Jul. 20, 1950  Welfare State
May 07, 1947  Union Welfare Funds
Jan. 10, 1940  Expansion of the Food-Stamp Plan
Welfare and Welfare Reform