“The Path to Prosperity” and Biblical Principles for Welfare Reform

Posted on March 14, 2013 by


On March 12, the House Budget Committee released its Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution “The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible Balanced Budget”. A key provision in the proposal is the “Safety Net Strengthened” (p. 25). Using reform of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) as a model when “Bipartisan efforts in the late 1990s transformed cash welfare by encouraging work, limiting the duration of benefits, and giving states more control over the money being spent.“, the current House proposal seeks to implement similar reforms to current federal programs, “… especially Medicaid (medical care for the poor) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as the food stamps).” (p. 27).

In mid-January of this year I had the privilege of attend a faculty retreat hosted by Values and Capitalism. Our first speaker was Lawrence Mead, “one of the theoretical architects of the welfare reform of the 1990s “. Larry discussed how the welfare reform in 1990s was structured to follow biblical principles. In From Prophecy to Charity: How to Help the Poor, Dr. Mead says: “The reformed welfare system, combining more generous support with clearer work expectations, is in fact closer to the biblical vision than what came before.” (p. 5). By patterning current welfare reform proposals on the successful reform of AFDC in 1990s, “The Path to Prosperity” is closer to the biblical ideal than our current system.

Is this an element of Ryan’s budget that Christians can uniformly endorse?