When President Bill Clinton’s welfare-reform proposal stalled in Congress in the summer of 1996, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden stepped in to push a tougher bill that gave more concessions to Republicans. He boasted his bill would get “tough on welfare moms.”
“It’s time to pass a welfare reform bill,” Biden asserted, saying his proposal would make welfare recipients work part-time and kick them off the dole after five years.
The final bill that Clinton ended up signing—after Biden voted for it in the Senate—cut welfare rolls in half within just four years and eventually drove them to historic lows. But starting this week, President Biden threatens to create millions of new “welfare moms” with his stealth-welfare program of using the IRS to pay single parents not to work in the name of COVID-19 relief, even as jobs go begging in the economic recovery.
Part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, his “Expanded Child Tax Credit” for the first time doles out monthly checks to people who don’t even work or report income or pay taxes—including illegal immigrants with U.S.-born “anchor babies”—and he and Democrats have vowed to make this scam permanent. While Biden has sold the no-strings money as a COVID-related “tax break,” it’s really the start of a massive new welfare program long proposed by the liberal wing of his party who never liked the Clinton-era reforms but who love the idea of a universal basic income.
It’s a stunning reversal: in effect, Biden is undoing his own welfare overhaul of 25 years ago. If Clinton ended “welfare as we know it,” Biden is rebuilding it like we’ve never seen before.
The first checks in his little-noticed stealthfare scheme began to arrive on July 15. Each month, the IRS will send millions of nonworking parents $300 for every child under 6 and $250 for each child age 6 to 17. Though the cash payments are set to expire in January, Biden wants to extend them for five more years, meaning the IRS will send a single nonworking mom with two babies $7,200 a year, which is more than the old AFDC welfare paid—and that’s on top of the tens of thousands of dollars in other yearly welfare benefits already available from Uncle Sam as a substitute for earnings. Democrats promise to sweeten the succor of cash IRS child grants and make it permanent, locking in more Democrat voters.
For years, the Children’s Defense Fund and other leftist groups have fought for changes in the tax code to remove all existing work obligations from the child tax-credit program. Democrats just dusted off their policy papers when the COVID recession gave them the perfect excuse to finally put them into action and permanently expand the welfare state.
“The inclusion of the robust expansion of the CTC (child tax credit) is a critical step forward in making a guaranteed monthly child allowance permanent,” the Children’s Defense Fund said in a statement. The White House has vowed to work with Democrats in Congress to do just that.
Democrats may think they’re helping the poor, but they’re merely doubling down on the devastation they caused in urban America in the recent past. In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson hooked millions of low-income mothers on welfare by paying them based on the number of children they have out of wedlock. As a result, illegitimate birth rates skyrocketed, along with poverty, drug use, and crime.
In the 1990s, Biden and Clinton worked with Republicans to reform welfare, breaking the generational cycle of dependency that Johnson created. Americans left welfare rolls in droves as more unwed mothers entered the workforce, dramatically reducing black child poverty and teen pregnancy rates, along with violent inner-city crime.
Back then, Biden seemed to get it. In August 1996, as a senator from Delaware, he issued a statement slamming the “failed welfare system” and trumpeting his support for reforms.
“The culture of welfare must be replaced with the culture of work,” Biden said. “The culture of dependence must be replaced with the culture of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. And the culture of permanence must no longer be a way of life.”
Biden has since moved far to the left. He now risks recreating the welfare culture he once condemned by doling out billions of dollars in cash welfare payments under the guise of IRS tax credits. If this new dole is made permanent, the president will resurrect LBJ’s anti-work, anti-marriage penalties and reverse the progress made since 1996. Like LBJ before him, Biden will reward out-of-wedlock childbirths and fatherless households while punishing work.
And he will turn the IRS into the nation’s largest welfare-benefits dispensary—even bigger than the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, which provide family income support and food stamps, respectively. It’s estimated the IRS will dole out more than $130 billion this year in Biden’s child tax “refunds”—two-thirds of which will go to parents who owe no income tax—a figure that dwarfs HHS and USDA annual federal spending on traditional welfare programs.
And if you think those programs are rife with fraud, just wait. As welfare expert Robert Rector points out, the IRS isn’t allowed to wait to corroborate information before it sends out refunds. By law, it has to issue the cash within 45 days of receiving filings.
“No other welfare program operates under this type of restriction,” he said. So fraud will likely run rampant under Biden’s unconditional new entitlement.
The IRS is supposed to collect revenue, not redistribute it. But under Biden, it’s now doing both. Biden plans to raise taxes on mom-and-pop businesses and corporations alike, as well as on the sale of stocks and homes, while doubling the number of IRS agents to enforce the new tax hit and help raise revenue to cover the cost of his massive new stealthfare program. You see, the money for the millions of checks the IRS is cutting for the first time to parents who don’t work at all isn’t free—it’s coming out of your pocket.
In fact, the agency may singly become the most efficient mechanism for the redistribution of wealth in U.S. history. The taxman may giveth, but the taxman also taketh away.
Paul Sperry is an author and veteran journalist whose work appears in RealClearInvestigations, the New York Post, and The Federalist.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.