In 2014, 46.7 million people in the United States were in poverty. This number included 15.5 million children under the age of 18, and 4.6 million seniors 65 and older were in poverty. This number seems to keep growing, and citizens are turning to the government to stop it. Welfare has become more controversial than ever as more citizens are relying on it than have in decades. For many decades, Democratic views on welfare were not overly positive. The Democratic Party first embraced welfare programs widely after the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.
The New Deal
During and after World War II, President Roosevelt and the Democratic Party dedicated themselves to an era of government that would design social policies to help the poor, the working class, and the elderly. The New Deal took control of social and economic policy, which had previously been governed by a laissez-faire approach. Social reforms under the New Deal included the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservative Corps, which put many unemployed people to work during the depression. The most significant New Deal reform was the creation of the Social Security Administration.
The Democratic Welfare Philosophy
Democratic views on welfare revolve around a Keynesian approach, meaning that demand dictates economic growth, and the federal government should use its power to spur said demand when necessary. Examples of this approach include: President Lyndon Johnson using the expanded role of government in his Great Society program to institute civil rights reforms for African-Americans and women; the 1964 Voting Rights Act and the 1965 Civil Rights Act outlawing discriminatory voting tactics and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color and gender respectively. President Johnson also created the Medicare Act of 1965, perhaps the signature act of this movement from the Democratic Party.
These acts were designed to combat financial inequality in the country. President Johnson in particular launched them as part of a War on Poverty, including legislation to establish food stamps, the creation of the Office of Economic Opportunity (Job Corps, VISTA, Head Start, Legal Services), and various educational initiatives all geared to reducing economic inequality.
Democrats on Welfare in the Clinton Administration
The election of President Clinton in 1992 was a new era for Democratic views on Welfare. President Clinton put comprehensive health-care reform at the top of his agenda. The health-care reform failed due to intense ads from health-care insurance companies and push-back from conservatives. President Clinton, instead decided to reform the national welfare program, despite pushback from other Democrats, who favored federal top-down policies. Clinton’s new welfare reforms replaced the Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC) with block grants to the states. The welfare reform instituted a new work requirement for all welfare recipients
Democrats on Welfare in the Obama Administration
In 2010, the Democratic Party with both houses of Congress passed the Affordable Care Act under President Obama. The law mandated sweeping new guidelines for health insurance coverage. The law was considered a victory for the Democratic Party, which had long held the view that health care is a human right and should be provided to all. This marked the first time since Roosevelt began his push for welfare that healthcare had been included successfully in this push.
Democrats believed that the benefits of the Affordable Care Act will also reduce the cost of healthcare to the federal government, “reducing our deficit by more than $1 trillion in the next two decades alone.” They support this supposition with the fact that “since the law passed, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate on record stretching back to 1960.” They also believe that the healthcare reform is benefiting Medicare, stating that it “strengthens Medicare by reducing fraud, improving quality of care, and closing the Medicare “donut hole” gap in seniors’ prescription drug coverage.”
Democratic Views on Social Security
Democratic views on social security revive around reinstating the system’s sustainability without privatizing or cutting back benefits, stating “Democrats believe that after a life of hard work, you earn a secure retirement. Our commitment to protecting the promise of Social Security is absolute.” Democrats believe that maintaining an income after retirement is the fundamental right of any American that paid into Social Security during their working years. Democrats strongly oppose Republican efforts to privatize social security, believing that this puts people’s retirement income at the mercy of the stock market. In fact, they wish to forbid employers from locking retirement savings into a company’s stock. They also oppose reducing social security benefits for those that are part of other retirement plan options. Democrats do not believe that raising retirement age is a reasonable solution to the problem.
Democratic Views on Medicare
Democratic views on Medicare revolve around the goal of ensuring that quality and affordable healthcare is available for all citizens, as evidenced by President Obama signing the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March of 2010. About 16.4 million Americans gained health care coverage as a result of this act, including 2.3 million young adults in the workforce who were previously uninsured. The benefits of the Affordable Care Act— also commonly referred to as Obamacare—are many, and include allowing children to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they are 26 if they are not able to obtain their own through their employment. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions is also illegal, and insurance companies are not allowed to remove someone from a plan simply because they get sick. Insurance companies cannot place annual or lifetime limits on coverage, an act which puts individuals and families in compromising positions should they be unable to pay out-of-pocket.
- Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics – Feeding America
- The Democrats’ View On Social Services & Welfare Programs – Classroom
- Democratic Party on Health Care – On The Issues
- Democratic Party on Social Security – On The Issues
- Democratic View on Health Care
- Democratic Views on Medicare
- Republican Views on Welfare
- What Will Obamacare Do To Small Businesses?
- Republican Views on Social Security
- Republican Alternatives to Obamacare
- Democratic Views On Social Security
- Republican Views on Medicare
- Democratic Views on Poverty
- Democratic Party Beliefs