Home»Commentary»Cloward & Piven, Universal Basic Income & The Failure Of Welfare Reform

Cloward & Piven, Universal Basic Income & The Failure Of Welfare Reform

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The New York Times ran an article praising President Biden’s 1.9 trillion-dollar relief bill as one of the nation’s biggest accomplishments. Comparing it to Bill Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996, which was supposed to decrease the number of people dependent on the government, this bill is being hailed as one that will lead to a guaranteed government income for all. According to the NYT, the Democrats view this bill as an opportunity to unite a divided nation around a renewed belief that government can provide them with their basic needs. The economic havoc caused by the Covid-19 lies has left many Americans in a state of desperation. Some conservatives who may have at one time opposed increased welfare spending are supporting the idea of a permanent, guaranteed income for families. This is no surprise, as advocates for liberty and personal responsibility have long known that destroying the economy and creating a permanent dependent class has been the agenda all along.

Welfare reform is a controversial issue. The basic premise of any welfare argument entails Republicans suggesting that it creates dependency and Democrats, that reform puts too much of a burden on those receiving benefits, or, that the benefits are not enough. Bill Clinton’s signature accomplishment was the welfare reform bill of 1996, which was supposed to decrease the number of people on welfare rolls by incentivizing employment and independence. The success of this program is debatable. While the immediate effect was a reduction in welfare participation, poverty rates in the coming years, however, increased among those the program was supposed to help the most.

Whether Clinton’s bill is viewed as a success or a failure is largely dependent on which side of the aisle one sits on. Surprisingly, those on the far left are more likely to see it as a failure than those on the right. This is because Clinton essentially gave the state more power in managing welfare funds. State governments would receive a one-time block-grant of money to spend on their welfare programs. This is providing they stayed within the guidelines set by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. According to Slate Magazine, TANF replaced what was a guaranteed system of cash benefits under the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program, with a system that only paid benefits if those in need complied with certain guidelines, like finding a job. Furthermore, the left’s discontent with Clinton’s reform is that it capped the amount the federal government could spend on welfare, requiring the state to provide matching funds. According to the bill’s critics, several states failed to spend that money accordingly. This is what they claim caused the rise in poverty levels through the 2000s.

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Why is this important? The Democrats have been pushing for a universal basic income for a long time. Early in 2020 they introduced the Emergency Money For The People Act, which would guarantee a monthly payment of $2000 for individuals over 16, and making less than $130,000 a year. According to The New York Times, Biden’s relief bill sets the stage for a guaranteed income, along with other economic provisions to become a permanent reality. One of these benefits is an increase in the child tax credit. Under Biden’s plan, this credit would pay $3600.00 per child. At a time when the nation is suffering an economic decline because of Covid-19, these provisions promise to create more welfare dependency. This is what the Democrats have always wanted.

Over the past several years, and this was particularly true when Obama was president, increased spending was considered part of the Cloward & Piven Strategy. Francis Fox Piven and Richard Cloward were sociology professors at Columbia University, a school known for promoting radical, communist views. They wrote in their article, The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty that a massive recruitment of people onto the welfare rolls would create a political crisis, forcing the government to implement, and this is in the first paragraph of their paper, a guaranteed annual income. The premise of their argument was that for every person receiving welfare there is at least one more eligible for benefits who are not receiving them. They also argued that welfare distribution was the primary responsibility of state and local governments. The Aid for Families with Dependent Children Program guaranteed a set amount of funds for states to distribute to all eligible people under the federal government’s guidelines. Cloward and Piven argued that the state governments attempted to keep the welfare rolls down by not informing people of their rights to the benefits they were entitled to and, by discouraging and shaming people for being on welfare. These are some of the same claims made by Democrats after Clinton’s reform bill of 1996. The main difference between AFDC and TANF was the discretionary power the states held to set their own standards on who would receive benefits and how the money would be spent. Providing it was spent within the parameters established by TANF, they could distribute it how they saw fit. This meant welfare money, instead of being direct payments to those in need, could be invested in job creation programs, for example, or education programs aimed at reducing poverty.

Twenty-five years later Democrats are calling Clinton’s reforms a failure. Largely because the far left believes the welfare reforms empower the capitalist system by forcing people off the rolls and into employment. This is despite the fact cited by Slate magazine that many people failed to find suitable employment, or, ended up in subsidized, low-paying government jobs. They are relishing in the fact that Biden’s 1.9 trillion-dollar bill is packed with welfare spending that pushes them closer to achieving their goal. The universal basic income. Since George Bush’s bailout of the financial system in 2008, the government has consistently spent more and more money. Obama spent more than Bush and believe it or not, Trump spent more than Obama. It is reasonable to conclude that this reckless spending will continue and that Biden will spend more than Bush, Obama, and Trump.

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It could be argued that Biden’s stimulus bill is the culmination of a decades-long strategy, originally devised by Cloward and Piven, to crash the economy and institute socialist reforms. Welfare numbers, despite Clinton’s so-called partisan effort to reign them in, are just as high as they have ever been. Poverty levels are as well. When Obama assumed office in 2009, he did exactly what the Cloward Piven strategy called for. He eased the restrictions defining eligibility and increased welfare spending from 475 billion to 590 billion. President Trump passed a welfare reform bill forcing states to reinstate work requirements where unemployment rates are low. The problem with this is that the available jobs were low paying. Townhall states that nearly three-quarters of the available jobs required a high school diploma or less. This provides no incentive to get off welfare no matter what the intentions are. Looking at things from the Democrat’s perspective, people being forced from welfare and into jobs that pay less than the benefits they were receiving is a step that increases poverty. It is something that reinforces their commitment to a universal basic income. Theoretically, Trump’s move could have been purposefully crafted this way to put more people into the poverty category. (I am speaking theoretically, not making the claim.)

Read the rest at Defense Of Our Nation


David Risselada

David Risselada earned his Master's degree in professional writing from Liberty University and has a Bachelor's degree in social work. David is the author of two books. Psychopolitics in America: A Nation Under Conquest and Not on My Watch: Exposing the Marxist Agenda in Education.

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