Palmer: If Obama wants debt limit hike, welfare recipients must go to work
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL06) told Yellowhammer Radio host Cliff Sims on Wednesday that he will push for a welfare work requirement as part of the upcoming debt limit increase negotiations with President Obama.
“We’ve got the debt limit,” Palmer said when Sims asked what Congress will be tackling in the fourth quarter of this year. “That’s going to be a tough vote, but I think what will wind up happening is they’ll get enough Democrats to vote for it that we will increase the debt limit. The best thing we can hope for as conservatives as that we get some concessions, that we get something for raising the debt limit. For instance, one of the things that I think we are going to suggest is that we require single, able-bodied adults who are receiving food stamps or Medicaid to go to work.”
Welfare reform passed by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 required able-bodied adults receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to work or prepare for work. The reforms were incredibly successful, cutting the welfare rolls in half and pushing the poverty rate for African American children to the lowest level in the program’s history. In 2012, President Obama gutted the law by issuing a bureaucratic order allowing states to waive the work requirement.
Welfare participation has exploded during the Obama presidency. According to a report by The New Republic, “the number of people receiving SNAP benefits jumped from 26 million in 2007 to more than 40 million in 2010. In 2014, an average of 46.5 million people received SNAP benefits—more than one in seven people in the country.”
Palmer told Sims on Wednesday that simply reinstating the work requirement for able-bodied individuals currently in the program could save taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
“If just 10 percent of that group get a job and go to work,” Palmer explained, “it will save us between 10 and 15 billion (dollars) a year.”
Another concession conservatives could seek as part of a debt limit increase agreement, according to Palmer, would be for Obama to go along with the GOP’s efforts to allow America to export oil.
“This bill that we passed Friday to repeal the ban on exporting crude oil will be a big part of helping us to fund the Highway Trust Fund,” Palmer said. “If Obama were to threaten to veto the bill to repeal the ban on crude oil, we could make that a pre-condition. If you want the debt limit, you’ve got to sign that legislation.”
This segment of Palmer’s Yellowhammer Radio interview can be heard in this video.