Does the current welfare system punish people for trying to get ahead?
Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis said the fight against generational poverty in the region is hampered by the very system designed to stop it.
Speaking at Thursday’s Scioto County Commissioner’s meeting, Davis said, “There are people who feel like they’ve been left behind in the job market. We work on this on a daily basis.”
Commissioner Davis said he’d discussed the issue just the other day as part of a larger conversation on addressing racial inequities.
Problems With The System
“There’s so many problems with the way the welfare system is designed. For someone who wants to work and get out of the cycle of poverty, it is punitive almost. If you try to better yourself too much, you lost all of your benefits.”
Davis pointed out that, as a Commissioner, he doesn’t make laws. But he also said that doesn’t stop him from talking about the issue to anyone willing to listen. “We do have a voice. I have voiced this opinion multiple times to people up the State and Federal ladder. We have to figure out a way to make it possible.”
Punished For Working
The Commissioner said he’s heard many stories of people punished for economic success. He gave this example:
“A single mother working and trying her best. If she’s offered a chance to move up in a company, she loses her benefits. She loses her medical. It’s too great a risk. We gotta reduce the risk. We gotta help people move up.”
Davis said that he and his wife struggled financially when they first married. As a result, they received WIC benefits for their first child and sought medical care at the clinic.
“There was a time when we lived in subsidized housing like a lot of people are here. We were finally able to take that leap. But it’s hard for some. It’s almost impossible for others.”
Key To Change
He said the key is to find a way to raise everyone up out of poverty. Hard work and individual responsibility are needed, according to Davis. But he said reform is a must.
“What does that look like? I don’t have all the answer but I do have empathy. That’s the kind of thing I’d like to see in America.”
Davis said welfare programs must change so that they are easier to get out of. “Welfare isn’t supposed to last a long time, it’s supposed to bridge us to a higher place. Right now, that’s not happening.”