1976 Republican Platform: Welfare Reform

The work of all Americans contributes to the strength of our nation, and all who are able to contribute should be encouraged to do so.

In every society there will be some who cannot work, often through no fault of their own. The measure of a country's compassion is how it treats the least fortunate.

We appreciate the magnificent variety of private charitable institutions which have developed in the United States.

The Democrat-controlled Congress has produced a jumble of degrading, dehumanizing, wasteful, overlapping and inefficient programs failing to assist the needy poor. A systematic and complete overhaul of the welfare system should be initiated immediately.

The following goals should govern the reform of the welfare system: (1) Provide adequate living standards for the truly needy; (2) End welfare fraud and prevent it in the future with emphasis on removing ineligible recipients from the welfare rolls, tightening food stamp eligibility requirements, and ending aid to illegal aliens and the voluntarily unemployed; (3) Strengthen work requirements, particularly directed at the productive involvement of able-bodied persons in useful community work projects; (4) Provide educational and vocational incentives to allow recipients to become self-supporting; (5) Better coordinate federal efforts with local and state social welfare agencies and strengthen local and state administrative functions. We oppose federalizing the welfare system; local levels of government are most aware of the needs of their communities. Consideration should be given to a range of options in financing the programs to assure that state and local responsibilities are met. We also oppose the guaranteed annual income concept or any programs that reduce the incentive to work.

Those features of the present law, particularly the food stamp program, that draw into assistance programs people who are capable of paying for their own needs should be corrected. The humanitarian purpose of such programs must not be corrupted by eligibility loopholes. Food stamp program reforms proposed by Republicans in Congress would accomplish the twin goals of directing resources to those most in need and streamlining administration.

We must never forget that unemployment compensation is insurance, not a welfare program. It should be redesigned to assure that working is always more beneficial than collecting unemployment benefits. The benefits should help most the hard-core unemployed. Major efforts must be encouraged through the private sector to speed up the process of finding jobs for those temporarily out of work.

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